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Archive for the 'Hebrew Phrases' Category

The Top 40 Advanced Hebrew Phrases

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In the pursuit of vocabulary, it’s easy to get caught up in individual words while looking past phrases. The reality, however, is that phrases are just as important in terms of fluency and flexibility of expression. This is true of any language you may wish to learn, but in the case of Hebrew, old as it is, even phrases used today may date back thousands of years! Indeed, Hebrew draws not only on the Bible but on the Rabbinic writings, as well, for some of the choicest and most common phrases you’ll encounter.

Notebook

Beyond the fact that many advanced Hebrew phrases are used ubiquitously, such that you’ll want to know them for comprehension’s sake, being able to use the right phrase at the right moment is one of the best ways to truly inhabit a language from within. The correct use of phrases, particularly idiomatic ones, is one of the clearest signs that you’re approaching mastery.

In today’s article, we aim to present you with a broad cross-section of the many phrases that tend to pepper modern Israelis’ speech, including academic, professional, and conversational phrases. As always, we suggest that you approach these by chunking them by category rather than by attempting to memorize them all at once. Pick a few, study and practice them, then move on to the next category and repeat. Just make sure to review them cumulatively as you move through each successive category so that you won’t forget the previous phrases you learned.

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Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Useful Phrases for Academic Writing
  2. Power Phrases for Your Proposal, Resume, Etc.
  3. Smart Phrases for Business Meetings
  4. Phrases for Everyday Use
  5. Level Up with HebrewPod101

1. Useful Phrases for Academic Writing

Woman with Head Buried in Book

Are you considering studying in Israel? If so, you’d be in good company! Israel is home to 61 higher education institutions (50 of which are government-funded) and hosts somewhere around 12,000 foreign students each year. Some of these universities, such as Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Technion in Haifa, are counted among the world’s best. If you do plan on any academic pursuits in Israel, you’ll surely want to arm yourself with these advanced Hebrew phrases for academic writing. Let’s check them out.

1. נוסף על כך
nosaf ‘al kakh
“moreover”

  • תושבי השכונה התלוננו על הזנחה, נוסף על כך בחודשים האחרונים הולכת וגוברת תופעה של נטישת מכוניות ברחבי השכונה.
    Toshavei ha-sh’khunah hitlonenu ‘al haznakhah, nosaf ‘al kakh ba-khodashim ha-akharonim holekhet ve-goveret tofa’ah shel netishat mekhoniyot be-rakhavei ha-shekhunah.
    “Residents of the neighborhood have complained of neglect. Moreover, in recent months, a growing number of vehicles have been abandoned throughout the neighborhood.”

2. ואילו
ve-ilu
“while” / “whereas”

  • הדולר נחלש, ואילו השקל שומר על יציבות.
    Ha-dolar nekhlash, ve-ilu ha-shekel shomir ‘al yetzivut.
    “The dollar has weakened, while the shekel has remained stable.”

3. חרף
kheref
“despite”

  • חרף העלייה במחירי הפירות צריכתם לא פחתה.
    Kheref ha-’aliyah be-mekhirei ha-peirot tzrikhatam lo pakhata.
    Despite the increase in the price of fruit, its consumption has not decreased.”

4. לעומת זאת
le’umat zot
“on the other hand”

  • המנהל החדש צנוע. לעומת זאת, קודמיו היו די יהירים.
    Ha-menahil he-khadash tzanu’a. Le’umat zot, kodmav hayu dei yehirim.
    “The new manager is modest. His predecessors, on the other hand, were fairly cocky.”

5. אף על פי ש…
af ‘al pi she…
“even though”

  • אנשים לא מפסיקים לעשן, אף על פי שהם ערים לנזקי העישון.
    Anashim lo mafsikim le’ashen, af ‘al pi she-hem ‘eirim le-nizkei ha-’ishun.
    “People keep smoking even though they are aware of the dangers of smoking.”

6. בניגוד לכך
be-nigud le-khakh
“in contrast”

  • ברור שכל אדם יכול להתנהג בניגוד לחוקי המדינה. בניגוד לכך, שום אדם אינו יכול להתנהג בניגוד לחוקי המשיכה.
    Barur she-kol adam yakhol lehitnaheig be-nigud le-khukei ha-medinah. Be-nigud le-khakh, shum adam eino yakhol lehitnaheig be-nigud le-khukei ha-meshikhah.
    “Obviously, anyone can defy the laws of the state. In contrast, no one can defy the laws of gravity.”

7. מפאת
mip’at
“due to”

  •  פסק הדין נדחה מפאת מחלתו של השופט.
    Psak ha-din nidkhah mip’at makhalato shel ha-shofet.
    “The ruling was postponed due to the judge’s illness.”

8. שמא
shema
“lest”

  • למדתי לא לתייג אחרים שמא יתייגו אותי.
    Lamadeti lo letayeg akheirim shema yetaygu oti.
    “I’ve learned not to label others lest they label me.”

9. בתנאי ש…
bi-tnai she…
“as long as” / “on the condition that”

  • נקנה מכונית חדשה בתנאי שהמחירים לא יעלו.
    Nikneh mekhonit khadashah bi-tnai she-ha-mekhirim lo ya’alu.
    “We’ll buy a new car as long as prices don’t go up.”

10. דהיינו
dehaynu
“i.e.”

  • אלה חומרי הריאקציה המהירים ביותר, דהיינו חומרי נפץ.
    Eleh khomrei ha-re’aktziyah ha-mehirim beyoter, dehaynu khomrei nefetz.
    “These are the fastest reactive materials, i.e., explosives.”

2. Power Phrases for Your Proposal, Resume, Etc.

Resume and Pencil

Moving from the classroom to the boardroom, let’s now have a look at some key phrases to use in the world of business. Well known as the Start-Up Nation, Israel is a prime player in the world of international business, and you may well have business dealings with Israelis. You’ll find below several advanced phrases in Hebrew that will help you leave a strong impression, whether in a business email or on your resume

11. כושר מנהיגות
kosher manhigut
“leadership ability”

  • בלי כושר מנהיגות, אף אחד לא יכול להוביל צוות בטווח הרחוק.
    Bli kosher manhigut, af ekhad lo yakhol lehovil tzevet ba-tvakh ha-rakhok.
    “Without leadership ability, no one can lead a team for the long term.”

12. תושיה
tushiyah
“wisdom”

  • תושיה היא תוצאה של שנים בעסק.
    Tushiyah hi totza’ah shel shanim ba-’esek.
    Wisdom is the result of years in the business.”

13. משמעת עצמית
mishma’at ‘atzmit
“self-discipline”

  • מצופה מכל עובד יעיל להפגין משמעת עצמית.
    Metzupeh mi-kol ‘oved ya’il lehafgin mishma’at ‘atzmit.
    “An efficient worker is expected to demonstrate self-discipline.”

14. חריצות
kharitzut
“diligence”

  • עבודה קשה וחריצות זה מתכון מושלם להצלחה.
    ‘Avodah kashah ve-kharitzut zeh matkon mushlam le-hatzlakha.
    “Hard work and diligence is the perfect recipe for success.”

15. דייקנות
daykanut
“precision” / “punctuality”

  • במשרד הזה, דייקנות, ניקיון, וסדר הם הכלל.
    Ba-misrad ha-zeh, daykanut, niykayon ve-seder hem ha-klal.
    “In this office, punctuality, cleanliness, and order are the rules.”

16. מסירות
mesirut
“commitment”

  • אנחנו מחפשים מישהו שמבין מהי מסירות למשימה אפילו למול מכשולים רבים.
    Anakhnu mekhapsim mishehu she-mevin mahi mesirut la-mesimah afilu le-mul mikhsholim rabim.
    “We’re looking for someone who understands what commitment means, even when facing many challenges.”

17. מהימנות
meheimanut
“credibility” / “reliability”

  • אל תשכח ששקר אחד קטן יכול להרוס את המהימנות שלך.
    Al tishkakh she-sheker ekhad katan yakhol laharos et ha-meheimanut shelkha.
    “Don’t forget that one little lie can ruin your credibility.”

18. אסרטיביות
aseritviyut
“assertiveness”

  • היא הצטיינה בלימודים ויודעת לעבוד, אבל חסרה לה אסרטיביות.
    Hi hitztainah ba-limudim ve-yoda’at la’avod, aval khaserah la asertivityut.
    “She graduated with honors and is a good worker, but she lacks assertiveness.”

19. סבלנות
savlanut
“patience”

  • אי אפשר לפתור בעיות קשות בלי קצת סבלנות.
    Iy efshar liftor ba’ayot kashot beli ktzat savlanut.
    “It’s impossible to solve difficult problems without a bit of patience.”

20. סובלנות
sovlanut
tolerance

  • לבעלים אין סובלנות לאלו שמאכזבים אותה.
    La-be’alim ein sovlanut le-elu she-me’akhzevim otah.
    “The owner has no tolerance for those who disappoint her.”

3. Smart Phrases for Business Meetings

Business Meeting

Assuming your business correspondence or proposal went well with your Israeli employer, clients, or partners, you’re likely to find yourself in a meeting with businesspeople chattering away in Hebrew. But fear not! The following phrases are just what you’ll need to impress those around you with your elegant handling of business Hebrew. Let’s have a look.

21. איך העסקים?
Eikh ha-‘asakim?
“How’s business?”

  • היי, גיורא. מה שלומך? איך העסקים?
    Hai, Giorah. Mah shlomkha? Eikh ha-’asakim?
    “Hi, Giora. How are you? How’s business?

 22. משא ומתן
masa u-matan
negotiations

  • בשבוע הבא אני טסה לפריז למשא ומתן מול הלקוח השוויצרי שלנו.
    Ba-shavu’a ha-ba ani tasah le-Pariz le-masa u-matan mul ha-lako’akh ha-Shveytzari shelanu.
    “Next week, I’m flying to Paris for negotiations with our Swiss client.”

 23. קומבינה
kombinah
“workaround”

  • אני יודע שהתוכנה עדיין נתקלת בשגיאות מסויימות, אבל יש לי קומבינה.
    Ani yode’a she-ha-tokhnah nitkelet be-shgi’ot mesuyamot, aval yesh li kombinah.
    “I know the program is still producing some errors, but I have a workaround.”

24. חוצפה
khutzpah
“nerve” / “gall”

  • איזה חוצפה! איך אתה מעיז להטיף לי על נימוסים?
    Eizeh khutzpah! Eikh atah mei’iz lehatif li ‘al nimusim?
    “What nerve! How dare you preach to me about manners?”

25. שפיץ
shpitz
“expert” / “whiz”

  • המהנדס שלהם פשוט שפיץ בכל מה שקשור לחשמל.
    Ha-mehandeis shelahem pashut shpitz be-khol mah she-kashur le-khashmal.
    “Their engineer is simply a whiz in all things electrical.”

26. פרוטקציה
protektziyah
“help from the inside”

  • בחיים לא נוכל להיכנס לשוק בסין בלי איזושהי פרוטקציה.
    Ba-khayim lo nukhal lehikanes la-shuk be-Sin beli eizoshehi protektziyah.
    “We’ll never be able to penetrate the Chinese market without some sort of help from the inside.”

27. מה נסגר?
Mah nisgar?
“What’s the deal?”

  • מה נסגר? אנחנו מחכים לך במשרד כבר שעתיים.
    Mah nisgar? Anakhnu mekhakim lakh ba-misrad kvar sha’atayim.
    What’s the deal? We’ve been waiting for you at the office for two hours already.”

28. סדר יום
seder yom
“agenda”

  • זהירות עם הלקוח, יש לו סדר יום משלו.
    Zehirut ‘im ha-lako’ak. Yeish lo seder yom mishelo.
    “Watch out with the client. He’s got his own agenda.”

29. כל הכבוד
kol ha-kavod
“kudos”

  • הרבעון הזה היה הטוב ביותר שלנו מאז ומתמיד. כל הכבוד לכם!
    Ha-riv’on ha-zeh hayah ha-tov beyoter shelanu mei-az u-mi-tamid. Kol ha-kavod lakhem!”
    “This quarter was our best yet. Kudos to all of you!”

30. נראה לי
nir’ah li
“it seems to me…”

  • נראה לי שכבר ראינו את הדו”ח הזה בשנה שעברה.
    Nir’ah li she-kvar ra’inu et ha-do”kh ha-zeh ba-shanah she-’avrah.
    It seems to me that we already saw this report last year.”

4. Phrases for Everyday Use

Word Magnets

Last but not least, let’s look at some advanced-level Hebrew phrases you can draw on during your everyday interactions. While there is no specific category for these, they are all common idioms that are guaranteed to lend your Hebrew that extra edge of authenticity for some street cred. A word to the wise, though: Use these expressions with caution. While a well-chosen idiom can garner admiration from even the toughest edge of Israelis, a poorly timed one—or, worse yet, one that isn’t appropriate for the situation—can easily backfire.

31. חבל על הזמן
khaval ‘al ha-zman
“it would be a waste of time talking about it (it’s so good/bad)”

  • ניסית פעם את הפלאפל שם בפינה? חבל על הזמן!
    Nisita pa’am et ha-falafel sham ba-pinah? Khaval ‘al ha-zman!
    “Have you ever tried the falafel on the corner there? (It’s so good) it would be a waste of time talking about it.

32. כואב לי הלב
ko’ev li ha-lev
“it breaks my heart”

  • כואב לי הלב אבל אני חייב לזוז.
    Ko’ev li ha-lev aval ani khayav lazuz.
    It breaks my heart, but I’ve got to get going.”

33. לך על זה
lekh ‘al zeh
“go for it”

  • מישהו רצה את המשולש האחרון?
    Mishehu ratzah et ha-meshulash ha-akharon?
    “Did anyone want the last slice?”
  • לך עז זה!
    Lekh ‘al zeh!
    Go for it!

34. אין לי מושג
ein li musag
“I have no clue”

  • אין לי מושג איך להפעיל את המכשיר הזה.
    Ein li musag eikh lehaf’il et ha-makhshir ha-zeh.
    I have no clue how to use this device.”

35. בשיא לשון הבקשה
be-si leshon ha-bakashah
“I’m begging you”

  • בשיא לשון הבקשה, הנמך את המוסיקה ותן לישון.
    Be-si leshon ha-bakashah, hanmekh et ha-musikah ve-ten lishon.
    I’m begging you, turn down the music and let me sleep.”

36. לא דובים ולא יער
lo dubim ve-lo ya’ar
“nothing of the sort”

  • אמרו לי בבנק שאקבל זיכוי תוך שבוע ימים. לא דובים ולא יער!
    Amru li ba-bank she-akabeil zikui tokh shavu’a yamim. Lo dubim ve-lo ya’ar!
    “They told me at the bank that I’d receive the credit within a week. Nothing of the sort!”

37. מה, אתה עובד עלי?
Mah, atah ‘oved ‘alai?
“What, are you kidding me?”

  • אתה אומר שאנחנו עוד פעם הולכים לקלפי? מה, אתה עובד עליי?
    Atah omer she-anakhnu ’od pa’am holkhim la-kalfi? Mah, atah oved ‘alai?
    “You’re saying we’re headed to elections yet again? What, are you kidding me?

38. נראה לך הגיוני?
Nireh lekha hegyoni?
“What were you thinking?”

  • נראה לך הגיוני לחנות מאחורי הכניסה לחנייה שלי?
    Nir’ah lekha hegyoni lakhanot me’akhorei ha-knisah la-khanayah sheli?
    What were you thinking, parking in front of the entrance to my driveway?”

39. מי אמר אני ולא קיבל?
Mi amar ani ve-lo kibel?
“Who did I miss?”

  • יש לי עוד כמה שוברים לחלק. מי אמר אני ולא קיבל?
    Yesh li ‘od kamah shovarim lekhalek. Mi amar ani ve-lo kibel?
    “I have a few more coupons to give out. Who did I miss?

40. כפרה עליך
kaparah ‘aleikha
“my darling/dear”

  • כפרה עליך, איך התגעגעתי אליך!
    Kaparah ‘aleikha, eikh hitga’aga’ti elekha!
    My dear, how I missed you!”

    *Note that this can be used for either a male or a female, and it does not typically bear any romantic connotation.

5. Level Up with HebrewPod101

That’s it for today’s lesson. We hope you’ve enjoyed these advanced Hebrew phrases for taking your Hebrew into the next phase. Remember that learning a language is a lifelong endeavor, and there is always room for improvement and growth. While these phrases are just the tip of the iceberg as far as Hebrew idioms go, they are definitely a solid start.

Have you come across any phrases that you didn’t see here but would like help understanding? Or are you still scratching your head over how to use one of the phrases included in today’s article? Don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know! We at HebrewPod101 are always happy to help. Our team of experts will get back to you with feedback. And who knows? You might just inspire our next lesson.

Until then, shalom!

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The Top 40 Intermediate Hebrew Phrases

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As you progress from a beginner to an intermediate level of Hebrew, you’ll no doubt want to expand your vocabulary so you can both understand and express more language. While anything that adds words to your repertoire is welcome, studying contextualized language based on its function or the circumstances in which it’s generally used can be greatly helpful to language students.

Rather than randomly choosing words out of the dictionary or from the pages of a newspaper or book, we here at HebrewPod101.com have put together a handy list of the top forty intermediate Hebrew phrases, grouped together by category: phrases for speaking about the past, phrases for making recommendations and complaints, phrases for reacting during a conversation, and more. We’ve also included examples of how to use these phrases in realistic contexts.

While forty may not sound like a huge number, we do recommend studying these phrases in chunks. The simplest way to do so is by category, but you could organize them differently if you feel so inclined. The key is not to overwhelm yourself and to commit to periodic reviews of the new words and phrases you acquire; this will ensure long-term retention and rapid recall.

Keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at the top forty Hebrew phrases at the intermediate level.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Talking About Past Events
  2. Making and Changing Plans
  3. Giving Reasons
  4. Making Recommendations and Complaints
  5. Everyday Reactions
  6. General Etiquette
  7. Up Your Game with HebrewPod101

1. Talking About Past Events

Cave Paintings

Did you know that human language contains a unique feature not found in animal communication systems? This feature is called “displacement,” and it refers to the ability to talk about things that aren’t concrete objects in front of our eyes. This includes not only abstract concepts like love and honor, but also points in time outside of the present. 

Hebrew is a bit simpler than many European languages in that it only really has one past tense (the simple past). That said, one could argue that Hebrew makes up for its lack of variety in tenses with its great flexibility in how the past can be discussed. For example, as you’ll see below, Hebrew has a special word that means “last night”—אמש (emesh). Let’s have a look at some other words and phrases for discussing the past.

1. היה … אתמול/אמש.
Hayah… etmol/emesh.
“It was … yesterday/last night.” / “Yesterday/last night was…” / “I had … yesterday/last night.”

  • היה כיף אמש במסיבה.
    Hayah keif emesh ba-mesibah.
    It was fun last night at the party.”
  • היה לי יום נפלא אתמול בעיר העתיקה.
    Hayah li yom nifla etmol ba-’ir ha-’atikah.
    I had a great day yesterday in the old city.”

2. לפני … ימים/שבועות/חודשים/שנים
Lifnei … yamim/shavu’ot/khodashim/shanim
“… days/weeks/months/years ago”

  • הגעתי לארץ לפני שלושה שבועות.
    Higa’ti la-Aretz lifnei shloshah shavu’ot.
    “I got to Israel three weeks ago.”
  • לפני עשרה ימים, התחלתי תוכנית אימונים חדשה בחדר הכושר.
    Lifnei ‘asarah yamim, hitkhalti tokhnit imunim khadashah be-khadar ha-kosher.
    Ten days ago, I started a new workout plan at the gym.”

3. מעולם/בחיים לא
Me’olam/Ba-khayim sheli lo
“Never” [*note the double negative in Hebrew]

  • מעולם לא עשיתי צניחה חופשית.
    Le’olam lo ‘asiti tzenikhah khofshit.
    “I have never skydived.”
  • בחיים לא הכרתי מישהו כל כך מעניין כמו המורה שלנו לעברית.
    Ba-khayim lo hikarti mishehu kol kakh me’anyein kemo ha-moreh shelanu le-’Ivrit.
    “I’ve never met anyone as interesting as our Hebrew teacher.”

4. פעם
Pa’am
“Once”

  • פעם האמנתי לך, אבל היום כבר לא.
    Pa’am he’emanti lakh, aval hayom kvar lo.
    Once I would have believed you, but no longer.”
  • פעם חלמתי להיות עורכת דין, אבל אז גיליתי את הבלשנות.
    Pa’am khalamti lihiyot ‘orekhet din, aval az giliti et ha-balshanut.
    “I once dreamt of being a lawyer, but then I discovered linguistics.”

5. בעבר
Be’avar
“In the past” / “… used to”

  • קראתי המון ספרים בעבר, אבל עכשיו כבר אין לי זמן.
    Karati hamon sefarim be’avar, aval ‘akhshav kvar ein li zman.
    “I used to read a lot of books, but I don’t have the time anymore.”
  • היינו שם בעבר אבל אני לא זוכר מתי.
    Hayinu sham ba’avar aval ani lo zokheir matai.
    “We’ve been there in the past, but I don’t remember when.”

2. Making and Changing Plans

Man Looking at Schedule

Now that we’ve looked at the past a bit, let’s turn our attention to the future. Below, you’ll find some highly useful phrases for discussing plans, including changing them. Remember that Hebrew, unlike English, does not use tense to indicate intended or expected actions. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to which phrases you can use to express future plans with different connotations and in different contexts. The following intermediate phrases in Hebrew should be a great place to start. 

6. בא לך ל…
Ba lekha/lakh/lakhem/lakhen l…
“Do you feel like…” / “Are you up for…”

  • בא לך לצאת למסעדה?
    Ba lekha latzet le-mis’adah?
    Do you feel like going out to a restaurant?”
  • בא לך לראות סרט אצלי בבית?
    Ba lakh lirot seret eitzli ba-bayit?
    Are you up for watching a movie at my house?”

7. אתה מצטרף/את מצטרפת אליי ל…?
Atah mitztareif/At mitztarefet elai l…?
“Will you join me for/at…?”

  • את מצטרפת אליי למסעדה איטלקית לארוחת ערב?
    At metztarefet elai le-mis’adah Italkit le-arukhat ‘erev?
    Will you join me at an Italian restaurant for dinner?”
  • אתה מצטרף אליי להרצאה על הגשמה עצמית?
    Atah mitztareif elai lehartza’ah ‘al hagshamah ‘atzmit?
    Will you join me for a lecture on self-realization?”

8. … אתה יכול/את יכולה לבוא…?
Atah yakhol/at yekholah lavo…?
“Can … come (along)?”

  • את יכולה לבוא איתי למרכז העיר?
    At yekholah lavo iti le-merkaz ha’ir?
    Can you come downtown with me?”
  • אתה יכול לבוא לקפה עכשיו?
    Atah yakhol lavo la-kafeh ‘akhshav?
    Can you come to the café now?”

9. האם נוכל לדחות…?
Ha’im nukhal lidkhot…?
“Can we postpone…?

  • האם נוכל לדחות את הפגישה לשבוע הבא?
    Ha’im nukhal lidkhot et ha-pgishah le-shavu’a haba?
    Can we postpone the meeting till next week?”

10. בוא/י נקבע ל…
Bo/Bo’i nikba’ le…
“Let’s schedule/set a time for…”

  • בואי נקבע ליום שלישי ב-16:00.
    Bo’i nikba’ le-Yom Shlishi be-’arba ba-tzohorayim.
    Let’s schedule for Wednesday at four p.m.”

3. Giving Reasons

Woman Making Questioning Gesture

Another useful category of phrases for intermediate Hebrew learners consists of those used for giving reasons. Once you’ve gotten comfortable explaining yourself in a more basic way, you’ll want to be able to give people your reason(s) for doing or saying something—especially with such inquisitive conversation mates as Israelis! You can expect us to ask “why” about pretty much everything, in fact! Here are some of the top phrases you can use to explain your reasons or reasoning.

11. …בגלל ש…
…biglal she…
“…because…”

  • פניתי אליך בגלל שאת נראית לי סימפטית וקשובה.
    Paniti elaiyikh biglal she-at nir’et li simpatit ve-kashuvah.
    “I came to you because you seem agreeable and attentive.”
  • הגענו באיחור בגלל שהנהג הלך לאיבוד ולא רצה לבקש הכוונה.
    Higa’nu be-ikhur biglal she-ha-nahag halakh le-ibud ve-lo ratzah levakesh hakhvanah.
    “We arrived late because the driver got lost and didn’t want to ask for directions.”

12. התכוונתי…
Hitkavanti…
“I meant/intended to…”

  • התכוונתי להגיע לתערוכה אבל האוטו שלי התקלקל.
    Hitkavanti lehagi’a la-ta’arukhah aval ha-oto sheli hitkalkeil.
    I meant to go to the exhibition, but my car broke down.”

13. חשבתי ש…
Khashavti she…
“I thought that…”

  • חשבתי שתהיה עייף אז קניתי לך קפה בדרך.
    Khashavti she-tihiyeh ‘ayef az kaniti lekha kafeh ba-derekh.
    I thought that you would be tired, so I bought you a coffee on the way.”

14. אתה חייב/את חייבת להבין ש…
Atah khayav/At khayevet lehavin she…
“You must understand that…”

  • את חייבת להבין שניסיתי להתקשר, אבל הקו היה כל הזמן תפוס.
    At khayevet lehavin she-nisiti lehitkasher, aval ha-kav hayah kol ha-zman tafus.
    You must understand that I tried calling, but the line was constantly busy.”
  • אני מבין שאתה כועס אבל אתה חייב להבין שזה לא היה בכוונה.
    Ani mevin she-atah co’es, aval atah khayav lehavin she-zeh lo hayah be-khavanah.
    “I understand that you’re upset, but you must understand that it was unintentional.”

15. לא סתם…
Lo stam…
“… for nothing” / “It’s no coincidence that…”

  • לא סתם קוראים לו דוקטור. הוא יודע על מה הוא מדבר.
    Lo stam kor’im lo doktor. Hu yode’a ‘al mah hu medaber.
    “They don’t call him ‘doctor’ for nothing. He knows what he’s talking about.”

4. Making Recommendations and Complaints

Man Talking to Waiter at Restaurant

Another key category of intermediate Hebrew phrases consists of those related to making recommendations or complaints. There is no end to the situations in Israeli life where you’ll find yourself wishing to complain. And it goes without saying that part of the Israeli way is offering advice—including recommendations—whether invited to do so or not!

16. ניסית פעם…?
Nisita’/nisit pa’am…?
“Have you ever tried…?”

  • ניסית פעם אוכל קוריאני? זה טעים ממש!
    Nisita pa’am okhel Kore’ani? Ze ta’im mamash!
    Have you ever tried Korean food? It’s really tasty!”

17. אני מציע/ה…
Ani metzi’a/metzi’ah…
“I recommend/suggest…”

  • בהתחשב במזג האוויר, אני מציעה שנשאר בבית ונבשל משהו.
    Behitkhasheiv be-mezeg ha-avir, ani metzi’ah she-nisha’er ba-bayit ve-nevashel mashehu.
    “In light of the weather, I suggest that we stay at home and cook something.”

18. כדאי לך לנסות…
Kedai lekha/lakh lenasot…
“You ought to try…”

  • אם את אוהבת אתגרים, כדאי לך לנסות טיפוס הרים.
    Im at ohevet etgarim, kedai lakh lenasot tipus harim.
    “If you like challenges, you ought to try mountain climbing.”

19.לצערי / צר לי לומר ש…
Le’tsa’ari…. / tsar li lomar she-…
“I’m sorry to say that…” / “Unfortunately…”

  • לצערי הטיול שלנו לא היה מי יודע מה.
    Le’tsa’ari ha-tiyul shelanu lo hayah mi yodei’a mah.
    I’m sorry to say that our trip wasn’t that great.”
  • צר לי לומר שאתה לא הטיפוס שלי.
    Tzar li lomar she-atah lo ha-tipus sheli.
    Unfortunately, you’re not my type.”

20. אני לא ממליץ/ממליצה על …
Ani lo mamlitz/mamlitzah ‘al…
“I don’t recommend…”

  • אני לא ממליץ על כביש החוף. הוא תמיד עמוס בשעות האלה.
    Ani lo mamlitz ‘al kvish ha-khof. Hu tamid ‘amus ba-sha’ot ha-eleh.
    I don’t recommend the coastal road. It’s always backed up at this hour.”

5. Everyday Reactions

Dancer in Bewildering Pose

This category differs somewhat to the previous ones in that it’s a grab bag of reactions that you could use in everyday conversations. They are quite versatile and can take on different connotations depending on how and when you use them. But that’s all the more reason to experiment with them and see how your conversation partners respond.

21. נהדר
Nehedar
“Great”

  • -קיבלתי 10 במבחן הסופי!
    נהדר! כל הכבוד!
    Kibalti ‘eser ba-mivkhan ha-sofi!
    Nehedar! Kol ha-kavod!
    -“I got an A on the final exam.”
    -“Great! Way to go!”

22. מעולה
Me’uleh
“Wonderful”

  • -איך תה הצמחים שלך?
    -מעולה! טעים מאוד.
    -“How’s your herbal tea?”
    -“Wonderful! Really tasty.”

23. חבל
Khaval
“What a shame”

  • -יובל אמר שבסוף הוא לא בא לאסוף אותנו.
    חבל. אז נצטרך להזמין מונית.
    -Yuval amar she-ba’sof hu lo ba le’esof otanu.
    Khaval! Az nitztareikh lehazmin monit.
    -“Yuval said that in the end, he isn’t coming to pick us up.”
    -“What a shame. Now we’ll need to order a taxi.”

24. איזה כיף
Eizeh kef
“Cool” / “What fun”

  • -אתה מוזמן לבלות את הסופ”ש אצלנו בקיבוץ.
    איזה כיף. להביא בגדי ים?
    -Atah muzman levalot et ha-sofash etzleinu ba-kibbutz.
    Eizeih kef. Lehavi beged yam?
    -“You’re invited to spend the weekend with us on the kibbutz.”
    -“What fun. Should I bring a bathing suit?”

25. איזה באסה
Eizeh ba’asah
“What a bummer”

  • -שמעת שביטלו את ההופעה בגלל המגיפה?
    -כן, איזה באסה. דווקא רציתי ללכת.
    -Shama’t she-bitlu et ha-hofa’ah biglal ha-magefah?
    -Kein, eizeh ba’asah. Davkah ratziti lalekhet.
    -“Did you hear that they canceled the show due to the pandemic?”
    -“Yes, what a bummer. I really wanted to go.”

26. מה אתה אומר/את אומרת?
Mah atah omer/at omeret?
“You don’t say.”

  • -ידעת שיש לי אח תאום?
    מה אתה אומר? אתם זהים?
    -Yada’t she-yesh li akh te’om?
    Mah atah omer? Atem zehim?
    -“Did you know that I have a twin brother?”
    -“You don’t say. Are you identical?”

27. וואלה?
Wallah?
“Really?” / “Is that so?”

  • -השבוע קיבלתי הצעת עבודה מחברה בלונדון.
    וואלה? מגניב.
    -Hashavu’a kibalti hatza’at ‘avodah mi-khevrah be-London.
    Wallah? Magniv.
    -“This week, I got a job offer from a company in London.”
    -“Is that so? That’s great.”

28. נו?
Nu?
“So?” / “What of it?”

  • -שמעת את החדשות הבוקר?
    -כן, נו?
    -שוב הולכים לבחירות!
    -Shama’ta et ha-khadashot ha-boker?
    -Ken, nu?
    -Shuv holkhim le-b’khirot!
    -“Did you hear the news this morning?”
    -“Yeah, so?
    -“We’re having yet another round of elections.”

29. מה זה קשור?
Mah zeh kashur?
“What has that got to do with it/anything?”

  • -אתה צמחוני, נכון? אז הבאתי לך ספר על צמחים.
    מה זה קשור? אני צמחוני, לא גנן.
    -Atah tzimkhoni, nakhon? Az heveiti lekha sefer ‘al tzmakhim.
    Mah zeh kashur. Ani tzimkhoni, lo ganan.
    -“You’re a vegetarian, right? So I brought you a book on plants.”
    -“What has that got to do with anything? I’m a vegetarian, not a gardener.”

30. ומה אתה רוצה/את שאני אעשה?
Ve-mah atah rotzeh/at rotzah she-ani e’eseh?
“What do you want me to do?”

  • -שוטר, הבחור שם מפצח גרעינים ברחוב.
    -נו? מה את רוצה שאני אעשה?
    -Shoter, ha-bakhur sham mefatze’akh gar’inim ba-rekhov.
    -Nu? Mah at rotzah she-ani e’eseh?
    -“Officer, that guy there is spitting seeds onto the street.”
    -“So? What do you want me to do?

6. General Etiquette

Last but not least, let’s look at some intermediate Hebrew phrases that can help you with your etiquette. Granted, as anyone who knows anything about Israel is sure to be aware of, Israelis are not world-famous for being polite. But that doesn’t mean you can’t earn some brownie (or halva) points for displaying a basic degree of etiquette and manners. In fact, maybe you’ll get lucky and rub it off on some Sabras! Here are some phrases you can use to add a bit of politeness to any conversation.

35. בתיאבון!
Be-te’avon!
“Bon appetit!”

36. ברוך הבא/ברוכה הבאה/ברוכים הבאים!
Barukh ha-ba/Brukhah ha-ba’ah/Brukhim ha-ba’im!
“Welcome!”

37. הרגש/י בבית.
Targish/Targishi ba-bayit.
“Make yourself at home.”

38. בשמחה.
Be-simkhah.
“Gladly.”

39. נהיה בקשר.
Nihiyeh be-kesher.
“We’ll be in touch.”

40. נסיעה טובה.
Nesi’ah tova.
“Have a good trip.”

7. Up Your Game with HebrewPod101

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson on intermediate Hebrew phrases. Remember to practice and review them to ensure they “stick.” By the same token, don’t overwhelm yourself. Just focus on a few phrases at a time, and soon enough, you’ll have them all under your belt.

Are you finding yourself perplexed over one of the phrases or examples we’ve provided? Are there any phrases you know that aren’t here but which you think should be? We love to hear from our learners, so please don’t hesitate to contact us; someone on our team of Hebrew pros will do his or her best to help address your concern.

Until next time, shalom!

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The Top 40 Simple Hebrew Phrases for Beginners

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Learning a new language is no small task. Between grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and even different social norms and body language, it’s easy to feel at a loss as to where to start. Today, we’ll arm you with the top 40 Hebrew phrases for beginners—simple but highly practical expressions and structures for a variety of situations.

We’ll be covering: 

  • Basic greetings and salutations
  • Courtesy phrases for making polite conversation
  • Language to use when shopping or dining out
  • Some phrases you can use to ask for help when you really need it
Woman Ordering in Shop

If you’re entirely new to Hebrew, it’s worth noting a few key features of the language that will help you along as you study the phrases below. First off, Hebrew is an abjad, meaning that, like Arabic and Farsi, vowels are not actual letters but rather diacritics; think of them as dots and dashes that adorn a consonant and tell you which vowel sound goes with it.

To make matters more complicated, these diacritics are typically omitted from written and printed Hebrew, meaning you’re often looking at only consonants. This may sound daunting, but you’ll get used to it! Plus, we’ve added a pronunciation guide for each phrase and example sentence to ease things a bit.

Another key fact you should know about Hebrew is that it’s big on gender. Not only does Hebrew apply gender to living creatures based on biological gender, but all nouns and pronouns are gendered as either male or female (often without any apparent logic). In addition, all adjectives and verbs have to take into account the gender and number of the nouns they modify. Again, don’t sweat it for now! Just be aware of this as you study these Hebrew beginner phrases and their example sentences.

Last but not least, if you speak English or another European language, it’s more than likely that some of Hebrew’s sounds will be hard for you to pronounce. Don’t stress over this! It gets easier over time, especially if you practice on a regular basis. We recommend using the many resources HebrewPod101 offers, such as video lessons with pronunciation modeling from native speakers.

With all that in mind, let’s have a look at the top 40 basic Hebrew phrases for beginners!

Woman Reading Book

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Greetings & Self-introductions
  2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions
  3. Dining & Shopping Phrases
  4. Asking for Help
  5. Let HebrewPod101 get you set with all the basics.

1. Greetings & Self-introductions

Woman Waving

Obviously, it always makes sense to start at the beginning. While some Israelis can be somewhat abrupt at times, skipping the niceties of introductions and cutting right to the chase, you’ll still want to mind your manners, right? The following phrases should give you a solid place to start as you work on meeting and greeting native Hebrew speakers.

1. מה שלומך?
Mah shlomkha/shlomekh?
“How are you?”

  • מה שלומך, דן?
    Mah shlomkha, Dan?
    How are you, Dan?”
  • מה שלומך, דנה?
    Mah shlomekh, Danah?
    How are you, Dana?”

2. איך הולך?
Eikh holekh?
“How’s it going?”

  • איך הולך? מה שלום המשפחה?
    Eikh holekh? Mah shlom ha-mishpakhah?
    How’s it going? How’s the family?”

3. מה חדש?
Mah khadash?
“What’s new?”

  • מה חדש, אחי? מזמן לא דיברנו.
    Mah khadash, akhi? Mi-zman lo dibarnu.
    What’s new, brother? We haven’t spoken for a long time.”

4. בוקר טוב.
Boker tov.
“Good morning.”

  • בוקר טוב. כבר אכלתם ארוחת בוקר?
    Boker tov. Kvar akhaltem arukhat boker?
    Good morning. Have you already had breakfast?”

5. צהריים טובים.
Tzohorayim tovim.
“Good afternoon.”

  • צהריים טובים. בא לך ללכת לים?
    Tzohorayim tovim. Ba lakh lalekhet la-yam?
    Good afternoon. Do you want to go to the beach?”
Cartoon of Man with Sun

6. ערב טוב.
‘Erev tov.
“Good evening.”

  • ערב טוב. כרטיס אחד, בבקשה.
    ‘Erev tov. Kartis ekhad bevakashah.
    Good evening. One ticket, please.”

7. לילה טוב.
Laylah tov.
“Goodnight.”

  • לילה טוב. חלומות פז!
    Laylah tov. Khalomot paz!
    Goodnight. Sweet dreams!”

8. נעים להכיר.
Na’im lehakir.
“Nice to meet you.”

  • היי, טל. אני רוברט. נעים להכיר.
    Hai, Tal. Ani Robert. Na’im lehakir.
    “Hi, Tal. I’m Robert. Nice to meet you.”

9. שמי…
Shmi…
“My name is…” / “I’m…”

  • שמי רונן. איך קוראים לך?
    Shmi Ronen. Eikh korim lekha?
    I’m Ronen. What’s your name?”

10. אני מ…
Ani mi/mei…
“I’m from..”

  • שלום. שמי רונדה. אני משיקגו.
    Shalom. Shmi Rondah. Ani mi-Shikago.
    “Hi. My name is Ronda. I’m from Chicago.”

2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions

Handshake

Now let’s take a look at some useful Hebrew phrases for courteous and polite conversation. Think of this as an emergency kit for most social interactions you’ll have in Israel. It is worth noting that Israelis are typically rather informal compared to people of some other cultures, but don’t mistake that for lack of courtesy—we just show it in our own special way, of course!

To make things easier, we’ve chosen only phrases that do not require any modification based on the gender of the speaker or the addressee. Basically, these are stock phrases, so feel free to use them liberally, wherever appropriate.

11. תודה.
Todah.
“Thank you.” / “Thanks.”

  • תודה על הפרחים!
    Todah ‘al ha-prakhim.
    Thank you for the flowers.”

12. בבקשה.
Bevakashah.
“You’re welcome.” / “Please.”
*Note that this one can mean either “you’re welcome” or “please,” depending on the context, as illustrated by the example below.

  • אפשר כוס תה בבקשה?
    -Efshar kos teh bevakashah?
    -“Could I have a cup of tea, please?”
  • -בטח. הנה, קחי.
    -Betakh. Hineh, k’khi.
    -“Of course. Here you go.”
  • -תודה.
    -Todah.
    -“Thank you.”
  • בבקשה.
    Bevakashah.
    -“You’re welcome.”

13. סליחה.
Slikhah.
“Sorry.” / “Pardon.”

  • סליחה, איפה השירותים?
    Slikhah, eifoh ha-sherutim?
    “Pardon, where is the bathroom?”

14. אין בעיה.
Ein ba’ayah.
“No problem.”

  • -תודה שאספת אותי מהתחנה המרכזית.
    -Todah she-asafta oti me-ha-takhanah ha-merkazit.
    -“Thanks for picking me up from the bus station.”
  • אין בעיה.
    Ein be’ayah.
    -“No problem.”

15. ברשותך
Bi-rshutkha / Bi-rshuteikh
“If you wouldn’t mind”

  • ברשותך, הייתי רוצה לחנות כאן.
    Bi-rshutkha, hayiti rotzeh lakhanot kan.
    If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to park here.”

Silhouette of People Waving

16. להתראות.
Lehitra’ot.
“Goodbye.” / “See you later.”

  • תודה שבאתם. להתראות!
    Todah she-batem. Lehitra’ot!
    “Thanks for coming. Goodbye!”

17. עד מחר.
‘Ad makhar.
“See you tomorrow.”

  • עד מחר. שיהיה לך ערב נעים.
    ‘Ad makhar. She-yehiyeh lakh ‘erev na’im.
    “See you tomorrow. Have a pleasant evening.”

18. עד הפעם הבאה
‘Ad ha-pa’am ha-ba’ah
“Till next time”

  • היה אחלה אימון! עד הפעם הבאה, גבר.
    Hayah akhlah imun! ‘Ad ha-pa’am ha-ba’ah, gever.
    “That was a great training session. Till next time, buddy.”

19. כל טוב.
Kol tuv.
“Be well.”

  • נסיעה טובה! כל טוב.
    Nesi’ah tovah! Kol tuv.
    “Have a good trip! Be well.”

20. ד”ש ל…
Dash le…
“Regards to…”
*ד”ש is an acronym for דרישת שלום (drishat shalom), literally “demanding/seeking peace.” It is equivalent to “regards” in English.

  • ד”ש לכל המשפחה.
    Dash le-khol ha-mishpakhah.
    Regards to the whole family.”

3. Dining & Shopping Phrases

Chef Seasoning Dish

Our next set of beginner phrases in Hebrew consists of expressions and sentence patterns you’ll need when you’re at the store, the market, or a restaurant. Obviously, this is just a crash course in shopping and dining out in Israel. After all, the art of negotiation is so powerful and omnipresent in Israeli culture that many restaurants don’t even display prices for the dishes on the menu. This leaves room for them to work you up on the price, or—if you know how—for you to work them down.

21. אדוני? / גברתי?
Adoni? / Gvirti?
“Sir?” / “Miss?”

  • אדוני, אני רוצה להזמין שולחן לשלוש.
    Adoni, ani rotzah lehazmin shulkhan le-shalosh.
    Sir, I’d like to reserve a table for three.”

22. האם אפשר…?
Ha’im efshar…?
“Could I have…?”

  • גברתי, האם אפשר לקבל תפריט באנגלית?
    Gvirti, ha’im efshar lekabel tafrit be-Anglit?
    “Miss, could I have an English menu?”

23. יש לכם…?
Yeish lakhem…?
“Do you have…?”

  • יש לכם תפריט יינות?
    Yesh lakhem tafrit yeinot?
    Do you have a wine list?”

24. אשמח…
Esmakh…
“I’d love…”

  • אשמח לקבל אספרסו כפול.
    Esmakh lekabel espreso kaful.
    I’d love a double espresso.”

25. כמה זה עולה?
Kamah zeh oleh?
“How much is it?”

  • הכובע הזה ממש יפה. כמה זה עולה?
    Ha-kova’ ha-zeh mamash yafeh. Kamah zeh oleh?
    “This hat is really nice. How much is it?”

Woman Checking Out at Bookstore

26. אפשר עודף, בבקשה?
Efshar ‘odef, bevakashah?
“Could I get some change, please?”

יש לי רק שטר של מאה. אפשר עודף, בבקשה?
Yesh li rak shtar shel me’ah. Efshar ‘odef, bevakashah?“I only have a one-hundred shekel bill. Could I get some change, please?”

27. אתם מקבלים כרטיסי אשראי?
Atem mekablim kartisei ashrai?
“Do you accept credit cards?”

אין עליי מזומן. אתם מקבלים כרטיסי אשראי?
Ein alai mezuman. Atem mekablim kartisei ashrai?
“I don’t have any cash on me. Do you accept credit cards?”

28. אפשר למדוד?
Efshar limdod?
“Can I try this/it on?”

אהבתי את השמלה הזאת. אפשר למדוד?
Ahavti et ha-simlah ha-zot. Efshar limdod?
“I like this dress. Can I try it on?”

29. יש לכם את זה בצבע אחר?
Yeish lakhem et zeh be-tzeva’ akher?
“Do you have this/it in another color?”

הארנק הזה הוא בדיוק מה שחיפשתי אבל יש לכם את זה בצבע אחר?
Ha-arnak ha-zeh hu bidiyuk mah she-khipasti aval yesh lakhem et zeh be-tzeva’ akher?
“This wallet is just what I was looking for, but do you have it in another color?”

30. אני אקח את זה.
Ani ekhakh et zeh.
“I’ll take it.”

אני אקח את זה. כמה זה ביחד?
Ani ekhakh et zeh. Kamah zeh be-yakhad?
I’ll take it. How much is that altogether?”

4. Asking for Help

People Holding Out Puzzle Pieces

Finally, here are some absolutely essential basic Hebrew phrases for beginners, namely phrases you can use when you’re in need of assistance. While Israelis can sometimes come across as a bit hard-edged, most of us are quite happy to help someone in need. Especially if you make the effort to learn how to ask for help in Hebrew, you should expect someone to come to your aid.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask police officers, border patrol, soldiers, and the like for help, especially if your situation is urgent. Just be sensitive to the reality of Israel, where real and present danger does often exist. Therefore, be sure not to exaggerate!

31. איפה…?
Eiyfoh…?
“Where is/are…?”

  • איפה תחנת הרכבת?
    Eifoh takhanat ha-rakevet?
    Where is the train station?”

32. איך מגיעים ל…?
Eiykh megi’im le/la…?
“How do I get to…?”

  • איך מגיעים לקניון?
    Eiykh megi’im la-kanyon?
    How do I get to the mall?”

33. אתה מדבר/את מדברת אנגלית?
Atah medabeir/At medaberet Anglit?
“Do you speak English?”

  • סליחה, את מדברת אנגלית?
    Slikhah, at medaberet Anglit?
    “Pardon, do you speak English?”

34. איך אומרים … בעברית?
Eiykh omrim … be-Ivrit?
“How do you say … in Hebrew?”

  • איך אומרים cell phone בעברית?
    Eiykh omrim cell phone be-Ivrit?
    How do you say cell phone in Hebrew?”

35. תוכל/תוכלי לחזור על זה?
Tukhal/Tukhli lakhazor ‘al zeh?
“Could you repeat that?”

  • איך? תוכל לחזור על זה?
    Eikh? Tukhal lakhazor ‘al zeh?
    “Come again. Could you repeat that?”

Man Helping Other Man Rock Climb

36. סליחה. שוב?
Slikhah. Shuv?
“Sorry. Once more?”

  • סליחה. פלאפון? שוב?
    Slikhah. Pelefon? Shuv?
    Sorry. Pelefon? Once more?”

37. לא הבנתי.
Lo hevanti.
“I don’t understand.”
*Literally: “I haven’t understood.”

  • ישר ישר ואז ימינה? לא הבנתי.
    Yashar yashar ve-az yeminah? Lo hevanti.
    “Just go straight and then left? I don’t understand.”

38. אני צריך/צריכה לראות רופא.
Ani tsarikh/tsrikha lir’ot rofeih.
“I need a doctor.”

  • אני צריכה לראות רופא. כואב לי הבטן ממש.
    Ani tsrikha lir’ot rofeh. Ko’evet li ha-beten mamash.
    I need a doctor. My stomach really hurts.”

39. האם תוכל/תוכלי לעזור לי?
Ha’im tukhal/tukhli la’azor li?
“Could you help me?”

  • האם תוכל לעזור לי? אני אבוד.
    Ha’im tukhal/tukhli la’azor li? Ani avud.
    Could you help me? I’m lost.”

40. הצילו!
Hatzilu!
“Help!”
*This one is pretty much a standalone expression. Don’t use it unless you really need it, as Israelis will come rushing to your aid. No crying wolf!

5. Let HebrewPod101 get you set with all the basics.

We hope you found today’s lesson useful. While these are the top 40 simple Hebrew phrases for beginners, there is much, much more to learn. And that’s exactly why we’re here! HebrewPod101 is proud to offer content covering a variety of topics and designed for every difficulty level. 

If you’ve been reading this lesson, chances are you’re at a beginner level. Be sure to check out all the beginner materials we offer, such as practice conversations, grammar and pronunciation guides, and plenty more words and phrases to bolster your beginner Hebrew vocabulary.

While taking on a new language is definitely a challenge, we believe that there is no reason to suffer while you do so. That’s why we strive for lessons that are not only useful and informative, but also fun. Is there any topic you’d like us to cover? Feel free to get in touch and let us know. We’re always happy to hear from you.

Until next time, shalom!

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Level Up with the Top 150 Advanced Hebrew Words

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American writer and lexicographer Wilfred Funk, of the publishing house Funk & Wagnalls, once said: “The more words you know, the more clearly and powerfully you will think…and the more ideas you will invite into your mind.” This is just as true when acquiring a second (or third or fourth) language as it is in your mother tongue.

As you progress in your language studies, learning more advanced Hebrew words is a logical—albeit unavoidable—next step. The more words you can acquire and use in Hebrew, the better you will be able to express yourself with precision and eloquence. A wider vocabulary will also allow you to understand written and spoken language with greater ease. 

Of course, advanced words are not the most monosyllabic in the dictionary. Rather, think of them as secondary and tertiary colors that expand your palette, allowing you greater expressivity and imagination. These can be literary or poetic words, idioms, colloquialisms, or specialized terminology.

In today’s lesson, we’ll look at the top 150 advanced Hebrew vocabulary words to help you expand your linguistic repertoire. We will draw from the academic and business worlds, the field of medicine, and legal language, concluding with some essential words to help you with academic and other formal writing.

Table of Contents
  1. מילים אקדמיות (Milim Akademiyot, “Academic Words”)
  2. מילים מעולם העסקים (Milim me-‘Olam ha-‘Asakim, “Business Words”)
  3. מילים מתחום הרפואה (Milim mi-Tekhum ha-Refu’ah, “Medical Words”)
  4. מילים מעולם המשפטים (Milim me-‘Olam ha-Mishpatim, “Legal Terminology”)
  5. מילים מתקדמות לכתיבה אקדמית (Milim Mitkadmot le-Ktivah Akadeimit, “Advanced Words for Academic Writing””)
  6. Level up with HebrewPod101!

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מילים אקדמיות (“Milim Akademiyot, “Academic Words)


Student in Library

Let’s begin our list of advanced Hebrew words with some academic vocabulary. These are words you’re likely to encounter and use in the context of academic studies or in written and spoken material from the world of research, philosophy, the arts, etc. This language can be particularly useful if you plan on studying at an Israeli academic institution or if you’re interested in reading the wealth of Hebrew-language research that exists in just about every field of study.

1.     אלטרנטיבה
alternativa
“alternative”

2.     הערכה
ha’arakhah
“estimate”

3.     תועלת
to’elet
“benefit”

4.     מורכב
murkav
“complex”

5.     קונספט
konsept
“concept”

6.     מסקנה
maskanah
“conclusion”

7.     התנהלות
hitnahalut
“conduct”

8.     עקבי
‘ikvi
“consistent”

9.     הקשר
heksher
“context”

10.  תיאום
te’um
“coordination”

11.  סביבה
svivah
“environment” / “surroundings”

12.  לשער
lesha’er
“to estimate”

13.  גורם
gorem
“factor”

14.  תפקוד
tifkud
“function”

15.  זיהוי
zihuy
“identification”

16.  רושם
roshem
“impression”

17.  להצביע
lehatzbi’a
“to indicate”

18.  השקעה
hashka’ah
“investment”

19.  חוג
khug
“academic department/major”

20.  שיטה
shitah
“method”

21.  להתרחש
lehitrakhesh
“to occur”

22.  פוטנציאל
potentzi’al
“potential”

23.  חיוני
khi’yuni
“essential”

24.  טווח
tvakh
“range”

25.  משמעותי
mashma’uti
“significant”

מילים מעולם העסקים (“Milim me-‘Olam ha-‘Asakim, “Business Words)

Coworkers Looking at Laptop

Now let’s have a look at some business vocabulary. These words can be very helpful if you have to deal with any finances in Hebrew. This includes things like banking, investments, and even the stock market. As an economic powerhouse, Israel is home to plenty of business dealings—especially startups—so these words will definitely be an essential part of your advanced Hebrew toolkit!

26.     לארגן
le’argen
“to organize”

27.     הנהגה
hanhagah
“administration”

28.     להרחיב
leharkhiv
“to expand”

29.     סעיף
sei’if
“clause”

30.     בטל ומבוטל
batel u-mevutal
“null and void”

31.     מתחרה
mitkhareh
“competitor”

32.     חשבונית
kheshbonit
“invoice”

33.     הצעת נגד
hatza’at neged
“counteroffer”

34.     סימן מסחרי
siman miskhari
“trademark”

35.  קונצנזוס
kontzenzus
“consensus”

36.  יחסי ציבור (יח”צ)
yakhasei tzibur (yakhats)
“public relations”
*Note that the abbreviation יח”ץ is pronounced “yakhatz.”

37.  סדר יום
seder yom
“agenda” (literally “order of the day”)

38.  עזר חזותי
‘ezer khazuti
“visual aid”

39.  שירות לקוחות
sherut lekokhot
“customer service”

40.  אסטרטגיה
astrategiyah
“strategy”

41.  ציוד
tziyud
“equipment”

42.  חומר גלם
khomer gelem
“raw material”

43.  סניף
snif
“branch” (as in the branch of a business, bank, etc.)

44.  קוד לבוש
kod levush
“dress code”

45.  אחריות
akhrayut
“warranty”

46.  חקר שוק
kheiker shuk
“market research”

47.  אישור
ishur
“authorization”

48.  קנס
knas
“penalty”

49.  מטה
mateh
“headquarters”

50.  מסחרי
miskhari
“commercial” (adj.)

מילים מתחום הרפואה (“Milim mi-Tekhum ha-Refu’ah, “Medical Words)

Surgeon Performing Operation

In this section, we’ll cover some advanced vocabulary in Hebrew from the medical realm. These words can be useful whether you plan to study medicine or simply want to be prepared for any medical emergencies that may come up. You’ll notice that our list features a mix of unique Hebrew words and cognates, or words that share a common root with their English equivalents. These cognates should be more familiar to you, even if the pronunciation throws you for a loop.

51.     רופא מנתח/רופאה מנתחת
rofe menate’akh/rof’ah menatakhat
“surgeon”

52.     אשפוז
ishpuz
“inpatient treatment”

53.     חדר מיון
khadar miyun
“ER” / “triage”

54.     טיפול נמרץ
tipul nimratz
“intensive care”

55.     כירורגיה
khirurgiyah
“surgery”

56.     בית מרקחת
beit mirkakhat
“pharmacy”

57.     מרשם
mirsham
“prescription”

58.     זריקה
zrikah
“injection”

59.     בדיקה רפואית
b’dikah refu’it
“medical test”

60.  גבס
geves
“cast”

61.  אבחנה
avkhanah
“diagnosis”

62.  שפעת
shapa’at
“flu”

63.  פצע
petza
“wound”

64.  שבר
shever
“break” / “fracture”

65.  תסמונת
tismonet
“syndrome”

66.  שבץ
shavatz
“stroke”

67.  התקף לב
hetkef lev
“heart attack”

68.  להתעלף
lehit’alef
“to faint”

69.  פרכוס
pirkus
“seizure”

70.  שיתוק
shituk
“paralysis”

71.  נמק
nemek
“necrosis”

72.  זיהום
zihum
“infection”

73.  עורק
‘orek
“artery”

74.  וריד
vrid
“vein”

75.  מטופל/ת
metupal/metupelet
“patient”

מילים מעולם המשפטים (“Milim me-‘Olam ha-Mishpatim, “Legal Terminology)

Scales of Justice and Law Books

Next up, let’s review some legalese. As in any language, there is a lot of legal terminology in Hebrew designed only for lawyers to understand. That said, you definitely want to arm yourself with some basic knowledge so that you can understand things like rental and other contracts. Knowing these words will also help you follow any legal stories you may see on the news, such as the perennial trials of Israeli politicians—even the prime minister himself!

76.     להאשים
leha’ashim
“to accuse”

77.     לתבוע
litbo’a
“to sue”

78.     לטעון
lit’on
“to charge” / “to claim”

79.     ערעור
‘ir’ur
“appeal”

80.     לעצור
la’atzor
“to arrest”

81.     תיק
tik
“case”

82.     בית משפט
beit mishpat
“court”

83.     להרשיע
leharshi’a
“to convict”

84.     עונש מוות
‘onesh mavet
“death penalty”

85.  פשע
pesha’
“crime”

86.  זיוף
ziyuf
“forgery”

87.  בית כלא
beit kele
“prison”

88.  עבריין צעיר/עבריינית צעירה
‘avaryan tza’ir/’avaryanit tze’irah
“juvenile delinquent”

89.  עוון
‘avon
“misdemeanor”

90.  שבועת שקר
shvu’at sheker
“perjury”

91.  פסק דין
pesek din
“ruling”

92.  הברחה
havrakhah
“smuggling”

93.  עד
‘ed
“witness”

94.  הסגת גבול
hasagat gvul
“trespassing”

95.  תקופת מבחן
tkufat mivkhan
“probation”

96.  מאסר בית
ma’asar bayit
“house arrest”

97.  רצח
retzakh
“murder”

98.  רשלנות
rashlanut
“negligence”

99.  עורך/עורכת דין
‘orekh/’orekhet din
“lawyer”

100.  הונאה
hona’ah
“fraud”

מילים מתקדמות לכתיבה אקדמית (Milim Mitkadmot le-Ktivah Akadeimit, Advanced Words for Academic Writing””)

Students Writing in Classroom

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the most useful words for academic writing. Most of these words are considered linkers (in Hebrew מילות חיבור, milot khibur), which you can think of as the mortar that holds the bricks—the main words of your writing—together in a solid structure. We have included here a broad array of linkers, including linkers of time, comparison, addition, causality, and more. You’ll definitely want to learn these advanced-level Hebrew words if you plan on studying at any Hebrew institution of higher learning, but they are just as useful for writing emails and even longer texts.

101.     במרוצת
bi-merutzat
“during” / “throughout”

102.     בשלהי
be-shilhei
“at the end of”

103.     טרם
terem
“prior to” / “before”

104.     על מנת
‘al menat
“in order to”

105.     מפני ש…
mipnei she…
“due to the fact that”

106.     לאור
le-or
“in light of”

107.     היות ש…
heyot she…
“considering that”

108.     בעקבות
be-‘ikvot
“due to”

109.     עקב
‘ekev
“following”

110.  במילים אחרות
be-milim akherot
“in other words”

111.  בניסוח אחר
be-nisu’akh akher
“to put it another way”

112.  כלומר
klomar
“which is to say”

113.  יתרה מזאת
yeterah mi-zot
“in addition”

114. בנוסף לכך
be-nosaf le-khakh
“moreover”

115.  כמו כן
kmo khen
“likewise”

116.  בדומה לכך
be-domeh le-khakh
“similarly”

117.  מעבר לכך
mei-‘ever le-khakh
“what is more”

118.  כפי ש…
k’fi she…
“just as”

119.  אולם
ulam
“however”

120.  בניגוד לכך
be-nigud le-khakh
“in contrast”

121.  במקרה ש…
be-mikreh she…
“in the case of”

122.  אלמלא
ilmale
“were it not for”

123.  אילו
ilu
“if (only)”

124.  בתנאי ש…
bi-tnai she…
“as long as”

125.  אלא אם כן
ela im ken
“unless”

126.  כידוע
ka-yadu’a
“as is known”

127.  כאמור
ka-amur
“as stated”

128.  כנזכר לעיל
ka-nizkar le-‘eil
“as mentioned previously”

129.  כלומר
klomar
“which is to say”

130.  משמע
mashma’
“that is” / “meaning”

131.  דהיינו
dehainu
“i.e.”

132.  למשל
le-mashal
“for example”

133.  כגון
kegon
“such as”

134.  פירושו של דבר
perusho shel davar
“which means that”

135.  אכן
akhen
“indeed”

136.  אומנם
omnam
“while” / “although”

137.  בייחוד
be-yikhud
“especially”

138.  יש להדגיש
yesh lehadgish
“it should be emphasized”

139.  ללא ספק
lelo safek
“undoubtedly”

140.  ראשית
reshit
“firstly”

141.  שנית
shenit
“secondly”

142.  תחילה
tekhilah
“first of all”

143.  לבסוף
levasof
“finally”

144.  לאור כל זאת
le-or kol zot
“in light of all the above”

145.  לסיכום
le-sikum
“in conclusion”

146.  נראה אפוא ש…
nir’eh eifo she…
“it would seem that indeed”

147.  משתמע מכך
mishtame’a mi-kakh
“as such”

148.  על אחת כמה וכמה
‘al akhat kamah ve-khamah
“all the more so”

149.  כל שכן
kol she-ken
“much less”

150.  קל וחומר
kal va-khomer
“let alone”

Level up with HebrewPod101!

We hope you’ve found our list of advanced Hebrew vocabulary words helpful and interesting. While 150 words is a lot to digest, as long as you take it a morsel at a time and make sure to practice and review, you’ll find yourself retaining quite a lot. As we always suggest, it is best to focus on a single set of words rather than attempting to tackle the whole list at once. You can do this by category, by starting letter, by part of speech, or by any other method that feels comfortable. As long as it works for you, go for it!

Just don’t forget to practice the vocabulary frequently, whether you do this using flashcards, lists, or other means. Practice makes perfect, and nowhere is that truer than when expanding your vocabulary in a foreign language. For some expert tips on building and retaining vocabulary, check out this article. You can also continue learning by heading over to our curated collection of advanced Hebrew lessons

Are there any other advanced Hebrew word categories you’d like for us to add? Any words you’ve come across that you’re unsure how to use? Feel free to get in touch with us, and our friendly team of Hebrew experts will be happy to help you out. 

Until next time, shalom!

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A Guide to Hebrew Phone Words and Phrases

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Does the thought of having a phone conversation in a foreign language put you on edge?

Making and receiving phone calls in one’s mother tongue can be stressful enough, but doing so in a foreign language represents a particular brand of challenge. In fact, it’s rather common to feel comfortable having an in-person conversation in a foreign language but to become shaky when it comes to handling phone calls in that language. If you give it a bit of thought, it’s easy to see why a Hebrew phone conversation may be a taller order for language learners than a face-to-face conversation.

For starters, experts claim that much of our communication is non-verbal. In the context of a traditional phone call, you can see just how tricky things can get when we’re confined to abstract spoken language, without the ability to reference non-verbal cues such as facial expressions or hand gestures. This is particularly true in the Middle East, where locals tend to use their hands as moving punctuation marks. While the increasing availability of video call technology means you might be lucky enough to see your interlocutor, there’s no indication that the old-fashioned phone call is going anywhere soon. It’s a good idea to learn phone call phrases and to practice phone conversations in Hebrew so you’re well-prepared when the moment comes.

Phone calls also tend to be more difficult as they introduce added potential for external communication obstacles. Depending on the devices being used for the call, any existing background or ambient noise, the speakers’ voices and volume level, and the quality of the connection itself, you may well be straining to hear or understand your interlocutor. Of course, you’ll want to ensure you can have a clear connection when you do conduct Hebrew phone calls, but practicing phone call-related language can help you “fill in the blanks,” even when the connection isn’t great or the speaker is a low talker.

In today’s lesson, we’ll take a look at the top 30 phrases for having a telephone conversation in Hebrew, including how to introduce yourself, how to ask to speak with someone, how to ask for clarification or repetition, and, of course, how to wrap things up at the end of a call. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have all the tools you need to effectively communicate over the phone in Hebrew!

Woman at Computer on Phone
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Saying Who You Are
  3. Stating/Asking the Reason for the Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Ending the Phone Call
  9. Sample Phone Conversations
  10. Phone a friend: You can call on HebrewPod101 to help you learn all the Hebrew you’ll ever need.

1. Picking up the Phone

Close Up of Woman Answering Phone

The first set of Hebrew phone call phrases you ought to study are the greetings. 

When the phone rings, you want to feel totally comfortable picking it up, regardless of who may be at the other end of the line or what time of day it is. 

While there are numerous ways to answer the phone or begin a conversation when someone else picks up, the following is a solid list of common words and phrases for picking up the phone in Hebrew. You can use the first two at any time, while the following three are time-specific. 

Note the particular way Israelis pronounce the first word, with a short “a” sound like that in “car.”

1. הלו?
Halo? (*can often sound more like “alo”)
“Hello?”

2. שלום
Shalom
“Hello” (literally: “Peace”)

3. בוקר טוב
Boker tov
“Good morning”

4. צהריים טובים
Tzohorayim tovim
“Good afternoon”

5. ערב טוב
Erev tov
“Good evening”

2. Saying Who You Are

Man Activating Headset

Now that you know how to answer the phone in Hebrew, the next step is learning to introduce yourself properly. As in English-speaking and other cultures, it is customary for the caller to identify themselves after using one of the greetings above. 

Once again, there are multiple ways to do this. For the purposes of today’s lesson, we’ll just look at the more common and basic forms used for self-introductions over the phone. Obviously, you would fill in the blank in any of these options with your own name. 

It’s worth noting that there is nothing wrong with identifying yourself first and then using one of the above greetings as an alternative way of answering the phone. Note that Hebrew syntax can be quite different from what we’re used to in English, as you’ll see in some of the examples below where the subject comes after the verb or adverb.

6. כאן ____.
Kan ____.
“____ here.”

  • כאן רות.
    Kan Rut.
    “Ruth here.”

7. מדבר/ת _____.
Medaber/et _____.
“This is _____ speaking.”

  • מדבר שי.
    Medaber Shai.
    “This is Shai speaking.”
  • מדברת ליאת.
    Medaberet Li’at.
    “This is Liat speaking.”

8. זה/זו _____.
Zeh/zo ___.
“This is ____.”

  • זה חנן.
    Zeh Khanan.
    “This is Chanan.”
  • זו שלומית.
    Zo Shlomit.
    “This is Shlomit.”

9. שמי ____.
Shemi _____.
“My name is _____.”

  • שמי דנה.
    Shemi Danah.
    “My name is Dana.”

3. Stating/Asking the Reason for the Call

Man on Phone Writing on Notepad

Next, we’ll typically indicate the reason for our call if we’re the one who initiated contact, or else we may ask the caller what they need or how we can help. This is true whether we’re calling a government agency for public information or if we’re dialing a friend to see if they feel like going to the park to play soccer. 

There are a multitude of possibilities here, but let’s have a look at the top ways to state or ask the reason for a phone call in Hebrew.

10. הגעתי ל_____?
Higa’ti l_____?
“Is this _____?”

  • הגעתי לשרות לקוחות?
    Higa’ti le-sherut lekokhot?
    “Is this customer service?”

11. רציתי לדעת אם _____.
Ratziti lada’at im ____.
“I’d like to know if ____.”

  • רציתי לדעת אם יש לכם תוכנית תשלומים.
    Ratziti lada’at im yeish lakhem tokhnit tashlumim.
    “I’d like to know if you offer a payment plan.”

12. אני מתקשר/ת אל ____ בחזרה.
Ani mitkasher/et el _____ be-khazarah.
“I’m returning ______’s call.”

  • אני מתקשר אל רון בחזרה.
    Ani mitkasher el Ron be-khazarah.
    “I’m returning Ron’s call.”

13. במה אוכל לעזור לך?
Be-mah ukhal la’azor lekha/lakh?
“How can I help you?”

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

Man Pointing to Cell Phone

Oftentimes, we place a call intending to reach someone in particular. However, we may or may not reach that person directly. If someone else picks up the phone, we want to be equipped with the proper language to ask for the person we’re calling. Here are some of the more common ways of doing so in Hebrew. Note that the final option is a good one when we’re looking for a specific department or office rather than a specific person.

14. אפשר לדבר עם _____?
Efshar ledaber ‘im ____?
“Could I speak to ____?”

  • אפשר לדבר עם חגית?
    Efshar ledaber ‘im Khagit?
    “Could I speak to Chagit?”

15. אני מחפש/ת את ____.
Ani mekhapes/et et ____.
“I’m looking for ____.”

  • אני מחפשת את שירלי.
    Ani mekhapeset et Shirli.
    “I’m looking for Shirli.”

16. האם ____ נמצא/ת?
Ha’im ______ nimtza/nimtzeit?
“Is _____ there?”

  • האם יגאל נמצא?
    Ha’im Yig’al nimtza?
    “Is Yigal there?”

17. תוכל/י להעביר אותי ל____?
Tukhal/Tukhli leha’avir oti le-_____?
“Could you transfer me to _____?”

  • תוכלי להעביר אותי למחלקת התלונות שלכם?
    Tukhli leha’avir oti le-makhleket ha-telunot shelakhem?
    “Could you transfer me to your complaints department?

5. Asking Someone to Wait

Woman with Phone Checking Watch

If we pick up the phone and the caller is seeking a specific department or person, we may need to ask them to wait while we transfer them to the right place. Alternatively, we may be asked to wait for the person, department, or office we’re trying to reach. In either case, we’d be wise to have a strong grasp of the relevant language for such a situation. Here are some common ways to handle it.

18. רק רגע, בבקשה.
Rak rega’, bevakashah.
“Just a moment, please.”

19. המתן/המתיני על הקו בבקשה.
Hamten/Hamtini ‘al ha-kav bevakashah.
“Please hold the line.”

20. אל תנתק/תנתקי בבקשה.
Al tenatek/tenatki bevakashah.
“Don’t hang up, please.”

6. Leaving a Message

Finger Pressing Keypad on Phone

Another key skill for good Hebrew phone conversations is asking to leave a message, which more often than not entails asking the person we were looking for to call us back. Here are some of the top ways to do this in Hebrew.

21. אפשר להשאיר לו/לה הודעה?
Efshar lehashir lo/lah hoda’ah?
“Can I leave him/her a message?”

22. תוכל/י לומר לו/לה שיחזור/שתחזור אליי?
Tukhal/Tukhli lomar lo/lah she-yakhzor/she-takhzor elay?
“Could you have him/her call me back?”

23. אנא התקשר/י אליי מאוחר יותר.
Ana hitkasher/hitkashri elay me’ukhar yoter.
“Please call me back later.”

7. Asking for Clarification

Woman on Phone with Palm against Forehead

Now that we’ve seen some essential language for Hebrew phone calls, let’s look at a crucial element of any conversation: asking for clarification. 

Whether due to a lack of experience making phone calls in Hebrew, the technical nature of our phone call, or even a bad connection, we may find ourselves unable to understand what was just said on the phone. In any event, it’s always good to know how to ask the other person to repeat or clarify what they’ve said. 

Here are the more common ways of asking for clarification during Hebrew phone conversations.

24. תוכל/תוכלי לחזור על זה שוב?
Tukhal/Tukhli lakhzor ‘al zeh shuv?
“Could you repeat that?”

25. לא שומעים טוב. עוד פעם?
Lo shom’im tov. ‘Od pa’am?
“I can’t hear you well. What was that?”

26. סליחה. שוב?
Slikhah. Shuv?
“Sorry. Come again?”

8. Ending the Phone Call

Phone being Hung Up

Last but certainly not least, you’ll want to know how to wrap up a phone call in Hebrew. The best way to do so will vary depending on the circumstances of the call in question, so here are four phrases you can draw on when you’re winding down a phone call.

27. תודה. עזרת לי מאוד.
Todah. Azarta/Azart li me’od.
“Thanks. You’ve been a great help.”

28. אז נדבר ____.
Az nedaber ____.
“So let’s speak ____.”

29. שיהיה לך יום נעים/ערב טוב.
She-yehiyeh lekha/lakh yom na’im/’erev tov.
“Have a nice day/good night.”

30. להתראות.
Lehitra’ot.
“Goodbye.” / “See you later.”

9. Sample Phone Conversations

Cell Phone with Different Icons Hovering above It

Now let’s piece it all together and have a look at a couple of brief sample Hebrew phone conversations, one informal and the other formal. Even though Hebrew does not use different grammar to distinguish between higher and lower registers (like Spanish and French do, for instance), it’s possible to adopt a more or less formal tone based on word choice, much the way English works.

The first conversation is between two friends, so the tone is familiar and friendly. The second call simulates making a reservation at a restaurant, so you’ll note that the tone is slightly more formal. That said, most spoken Modern Hebrew is relatively informal compared to other languages, even in exchanges between strangers.

1. Shai makes plans to get together with a friend

Man Holding Schedule

-הלו?
Halo?
“Hello?”

-שלום, רון. זה שי.
Shalom, Ron. Zeh Shai.
“Hi, Ron. This is Shai.”

-היי, שי. מה נשמע?
Hay, Shai. Mah nishmah?
“Hi, Shai. What’s up?”

-הכל טוב. מה איתך?
Ha-kol tov. Mah itkha?
“Everything’s good. What’s up with you?”

-אצלי הכל בסדר. תודה. מה קורה?
Etzli ha-kol beseder. Todah. Mah koreh?
“Everything’s good with me. Thanks. What’s going on?”

-רציתי לדעת אם בא לך לצאת לאכול בסופ”ש.
Ratziti lada’at im ba lekha latzeit le’ekhol ba-sofash.
“I wanted to know if you feel like going out for brunch this weekend.”

-וואלה. אשמח. אל תנתק, אני רק בודק את היומן שלי.
Wallah. Esmakh. Al tenatek. Ani rak bodek et ha-yoman sheli.
“Yeah. I’d be happy to. Don’t hang up. I’m just checking my schedule.”

-אוקיי.
Okay.
“Okay.”

-אז אני פנוי בשבת בבוקר מ-11:00 והלאה.
Az ani panuy be-Shabbat ba-boker me-akhat-esreh ve-hal’ah.
“So, I’m free Saturday morning from 11:00 onwards.”

-אחלה, בא נקבע ל-11:30 במקום הקבוע שלנו.
Akhlah, bo nikba’ le-akhat-esreh-va-khetzi ba-makom ha-kavu’a shelanu.
“Great, let’s set it for 11:30 in our usual place.”

-בסדר גמור. רשמתי.
Be-seder gamur. Rashamti.
“Absolutely. I wrote it down.”

-יופי. אז נדבר בסופ”ש.
Yofi. Az nedaber ba-sofash.
“Nice. So let’s talk this weekend.”

-נשמע טוב, חבר. שיהיה לך ערב טוב.
Nishma’ tov, khaver. She-yihiyeh lekha ‘erev tov.
“Sounds good, buddy. Have a good evening.”

-גם לך. להתראות.
Gam lekha. Lehitra’ot.
“You too. See you.”

2. Shai reserves a table at Lavan Restaurant

Waiter Holding Plates

-שלום. הגעתי למסעדת לבן?
Shalom. Higa’ti le-mis’edet Lavan?
“Hello. Is this the Lavan Restaurant?”

-צהריים טובים. כן, כאן לירון במסעדת לבן. במה אוכל לעזור לך?
Tzohorayim tovim. Ken, kan Liron mi-mis’edet Lavan- Be-mah ukhal la’azor lekha?
“Good afternoon. Yes, this is Liron at Lavan. How can I help you?”

-אני רוצה להזמין שולחן לשניים בבקשה.
Ani rotzeh lehazmin shulkhan le-shnayim bevakashah.
“I’d like to reserve a table for two, please.”

-אין בעיה. יום ושעה, בבקשה?
Ein ba’ayah. Yom ve-sha’ah bevakashah?
“No problem. Day and time, please?”

-יום שבת ב-11:30. על שם שי בבקשה.
Yom Shabbat be-akhat-esreh va-khetzi. ‘Al shem Shai bevakashah.
“Saturday at 11:30. Under Shai, please.”

-אוקיי, אני רושמת. זהו, רשום. עוד משהו?
Okay, ani roshemet. Zehu, rashum. ‘Od mashehu?
“Okay, I’m entering it in. That’s it, you’re registered. Anything else?”

-כן, רק הייתי רוצה לבקש את השולחן בפינה, עם נוף לעמק.
Ken, rak hayiti rotzeh levakesh et ha-shulkhan ba-pinah, ‘im nof la-’emek.
“Yes, I’d just like to ask for the table in the corner, with a view of the valley.”

-אוקיי, הוספתי הערה.
Okay, hosafti he’arah.
“Okay, I’ve added a note.”

-אחלה. תודה, עזרת לי מאוד.
Akhlah. Todah, azart li me’od.
“Great. Thanks, you’ve been very helpful.”

-אין על מה. תודה ונכחה לכם בשבת ב-11:30.
Ein ‘al mah. Todah ve-nekhakeh lakhem be-Shabbat be-akhat-esreh-va-khetzi.
“No problem. Thanks, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Saturday at 11:30.”

-להתראות.
Lehitra’ot.
“Goodbye.”

-ביי.
Bay.
“Bye.”

10. Phone a friend: You can call on HebrewPod101 to help you learn all the Hebrew you’ll ever need.

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson on how to have a Hebrew phone conversation. Obviously, the more you improve your Hebrew, the more comfortable you’ll be both speaking by phone and understanding the person on the other end of the line. That said, it’s always great to practice specific situations with the right vocabulary, particularly ones you tend to get stressed over.

HebrewPod101 is here to offer you a wealth of resources to prepare you for speaking and understanding Hebrew in any situation you may face, whether it’s related to work, school, travel, family, friends, or even romance. Check out our site, and you’ll find an endless variety of lessons hand-crafted to equip you with all the language you’ll need to speak with fluency and confidence. 

As always, we’re happy to hear from you if you feel we’ve missed anything or if you’d like us to clarify something we covered.

Until next time, shalom!

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The Top 10 Hebrew Filler Words

Thumbnail

As with any other language, spoken Hebrew can be quite different from written Hebrew. While there’s a wealth of grammar and other rules that dictate what is “correct” Hebrew, what Israelis actually speak on the street follows rules of its own, separate from what the Academy of the Hebrew Language may deem kosher. Aside from slang, elisions, and pronunciation variants, Hebrew filler words are just a part of natural speech.

Filler words are typically short words or sounds that we employ while thinking of what to say, or perhaps even when we get nervous. Most people use filler words to some extent, although your middle school grammar teacher may have criticized their use. While it’s true that using such words too often can definitely make you sound unsure of yourself or—let’s face it—just get annoying, peppering your speech with some authentic filler words in Hebrew will make you sound that much more natural. Plus, sometimes, you really just need a moment to gather your thoughts or to remember that new vocabulary word that’s stuck on the tip of your tongue.

In today’s lesson, we’re going to look at the top fillers in the Hebrew language. We’ll discuss why we use filler words, when to use each one, and how to pronounce them idiomatically. Just keep in mind that you really don’t want to overuse them, as they will degrade the quality of your speech. Even if you hear some Israelis using a whole lot of filler words (and you will hear this!), we still advise using them sparingly. In other words, like, you know: don’t overdo it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. What are filler words and why do we use them?
  2. Filler words with no real semantic meaning
  3. Filler words to show you’re still thinking
  4. Filler words that signal to the other person
  5. Let HebrewPod101 Fill in the Blanks for You

1. What are filler words and why do we use them?

As we mentioned previously, filler words are words, phrases, or even just utterances that we use to stitch our speech together. Most of the time, we employ fillers to buy time when we’re still thinking of what to say. Take the English fillers “uh” and “well” for example; you might hear people use them when they’re still processing their thoughts or thinking about what someone has just said. Obviously, there are other functions we may associate with filler words, as well. Here are the top five reasons we tend to use filler words in Hebrew:

  1. We’re still thinking of what to say

    As mentioned, fillers are most often used to buy time so you can think of what to say next. This is particularly relevant to language learners, as using a filler word can indicate to the other party that you’re still actively engaged in the conversation, even if you need a moment to formulate a response in Hebrew.
  1. We’re nervous

    In a similar vein, being nervous can often cause us to get confused or to have memory lapses. Clearly, as a Hebrew learner, it’s perfectly normal for you to feel some amount of nervousness in situations where you feel on the spot (such as asking someone out or talking to a person of authority like a police officer). While a bit of hemming and hawing is understandable, try not to allow your nerves to unleash an unchecked flow of fillers!
  1. It’s a tic or bad habit

    This is one you really want to be careful of. Many native speakers of a language exhibit the bad habit of overusing filler words (just imagine a teenager who says “like” after every other word). It’s pretty intuitive that watering down your speech with a bunch of meaningless words or utterances is not going to do any favors for your fluency or eloquence. Language learners in particular can easily fall into this trap. You may begin using fillers casually whenever you’re planning what to say next, but if you’re not careful, this may soon turn into a habit. This is why it’s important to be conscious of your use of fillers and not to allow them to get out of hand.
  1. We want to show we’re following along with someone as they speak
Attentive Listeners
    Sometimes, we use fillers just to show the person we’re talking with that we’re actively engaged in the conversation. You can think of affirmatives (e.g. “uh-huh” or “sure”) or expressions of surprise (“wow” or “no way”) that we commonly offer so the other person knows we’re following along with interest. Again, this is perfectly fine in moderation, but be careful not to exaggerate it.
  1. We can’t think of the right word

    As a non-native speaker, you may find yourself fumbling to retrieve a word you know you’ve learned but can’t recall, or maybe even a word you haven’t yet encountered in your studies. Whatever the case may be, filler words are a great way to indicate that we need a moment or two to access our memory banks, or perhaps to ask for help with expressing our thoughts.

2. Filler words with no real semantic meaning

To start, let’s have a look at some Hebrew filler words that don’t really convey any meaning. These are equivalent to English fillers such as “um,” “like,” “you know,” and “I mean,” to name just a few. Essentially, we’re talking about words, phrases, or utterances whose removal from a sentence would not have any impact on its semantic meaning. Conversely, then, their addition to these sentences is not a matter of adding or modifying information, but rather one of performing the functions we mentioned above.

Man Holding Rope in Shape of Question Mark
  1. אממ…
    Em
    “Um”

This one is just the Israeli parallel to English’s “um,” which is to say it’s as filler as it gets.

  • – אתה זוכר איפה חנינו את האוטו?
    – Atah zokher eyfoh khaninu et ha-oto?
    – “Do you remember where we parked the car?”
  • אממ…, אני חושב שאנחנו ליד בית הספר.
    Emm…, ani khoshev she-anakhnu leyad beyt ha-sefer.
    – “Um, I think we’re next to the school.”
  • – כמה אתה שוקל?
    – Kamah atah shokel?
    – “How much do you weigh?”
  • – תן לי להיזכר. אממ… 80 קילו אם אני לא טועה.
    – Ten li lehizakher. Emm… shmonim kilo im ani lo to’eh.
    – “Let me think. Um… 80 kilos, if I’m not mistaken.”

  1. כאילו
    Ke’ilu
    “Like”
  • – דנה, נרדמת לי, כאילו, או מה?
    – Danah, nirdamt li, ke’ilu, o mah?
    – “Dana, did you, like, fall asleep on me?”
  • – לא, סליחה. פשוט לא ישנתי טוב.
    – Lo, selikhah. Pashut lo yashanti tov.
    – “No, sorry. I just didn’t sleep well.”
  • – נשמע ממש מעניין, כאילו, הרעיון שלך.
    – Nishma’ mamash me’anyen, ke’ilu, ha-ra’ayon shelakh.
    – “Your idea sounds, like, really interesting.”
  • – תודה. כאילו, זה לא ממש מקורי, אבל תודה.
    – Todah.  Ke’ilu, zeh lo mamash mekori, aval todah.
    – “Thanks. Like, it’s not very original, but thanks.”

  1. יעני
    Ya’ani
    “I mean”

*Note that this is actually an Arabic word that is used as a loanword in Hebrew (as are many other Arabic words, particularly slang).

  • – נסענו העירה, יעני לתל אביב.
    Nasa’anu ha-ira, ya’ani le-Tel Aviv.
    – “We drove downtown. I mean, to Tel Aviv.”
  • – וואו, לך לישון!
    – Wau, lekh lishon.
    – “Wow, go to sleep.”
  • – אתם חברים יעני?
    – Atem khaverim ya’ani,?
    – “Are you, I mean, an item?”
  • – האמת שכבר יצאנו פעמיים!
    – Ha-emet she-kvar yatzanu pa’amayim!
    – “The truth is we’ve already gone out twice!”

Conversation among friends
  1. נכון
    Nakhon
    “Right”
  • – שלום, האם תוכל לעזור לי? אין לי חשמל בכל הבית.
    – Shalom, ha’im tukhal la’azor li? Eyn li khashmal be-khol ha-bayit.
    – “Hi, could you help me? I have no electricity anywhere in the house.”
  • – דבר ראשון, אתה רוצה לבדוק את לוח החשמל, נכון?
    – Davar rishon, atah rotzeh livdok et lu’akh ha-khasmal, nakhon?
    – “First thing, you’d wanna check the panel, right?”
  • – ראית את אורן בזמן האחרון?
    – Ra’it et Oren ba-zman ha-akharon?
    – “Have you seen Oren lately?”
  • – אתה עובד איתו, נכון? אז תגיד לי אתה.
    – Atah oved ito, nakhon? Az tagid li atah.
    – “You work with him, right? So why don’t you tell me?”

  1. אז
    Az
    “So”
  • אז איך נשמע לך הרעיון של שותפות מלאה?
    Az eykh nishma’ lakh ha-ra’ayon shel shutafut mele’ah?
    – “So what do you think about a full partnership?”
  • – תני לי לחשוב על זה כמה ימים.
    – Teni li lakha’shov ‘al zeh kamah yamim.
    – “Let me think about it for a couple of days.”
  • – אתה בא למסיבה של רון?
    – Atah ba la-mesibah shel Ron?
    – “Are you coming to Ron’s party?”
  • – הוא לא ממש הזמין אותי, אז
    – Hu lo mamash hizmin oti, az
    – “He didn’t really invite me, so…”

3. Filler words to show you’re still thinking

As we said previously, filler words are a great way to buy some time when you’re in the process of thinking. This can be because you’re still processing what the other person said or because you’re mining your memory for that perfect word or phrase you learned just last week. Either way, the following fillers are particularly useful in situations where you just need a moment to gather your thoughts before continuing with the conversation.

Woman with question marks above head
  1. לדעתי
    Le-da’ati
    “I think” / “To my mind”
  • – נראה לך שנוכל לנסוע בקרוב?
    – Nireh lekha she-nukhal linso’a be-karov?
    – “Do you think we can head out soon?”
  • – ייקח לי עוד כשעתיים לסיים כאן, לדעתי.
    – Yikakh li ‘od ke-sha’atayim lesayem kan, le-da’ati.
    – “It’ll take me another couple of hours or so to finish up here, I think.”
  • – כמה הוצאנו על המסיבה?
    – Kamah hotzenu ‘al ha-mesibah?
    – “How much did we spend on the party?”
  • לדעתי, זה יצא סביב ה-600 שקל.
    Le-da’ati, ze yatzah seviv ha-shesh-me’ot shekel.
    – “I think it came to around 600 shekels.”

  1. כנראה
    Kanireh
    “Apparently” / “It would seem”
  • – למה אתה לבוש ככה?
    – Lamah atah lavush kakhah?
    – “Why are you dressed like that?”
  • כנראה שנדבקתי במשהו.
    Kanireh she-nidbakti be-mashehu.
    – “It would seem that I’m coming down with something.”
  • – בא לך לצאת לבירה הערב?
    Ba lakh latzet le-birah ha-’erev?
    – “Do you feel like going out for a beer tonight?”
  • – בא לי אבל אני כנראה שאצטרך לעבוד עד מאוחר.
    – Ba li aval kanireh she-etztarekh la’avod ‘ad me’ukhar.
    – “I’d like to, but apparently I’m going to have to work late.”

4. Filler words that signal to the other person

Two Men Conversing

Lastly, let’s have a look at some filler words that represent a sort of “nod” at the person you’re speaking to, by way of talking to and not at someone. These can be thought of as a way of holding the person’s attention, or making sure (s)he is following along with you. You can also throw in one of these Hebrew filler words if you feel like you may not have explained yourself clearly, in order to make sure the other person did, in fact, understand you. 

  1. אתה יודע/את יודעת&
    Atah yode’a / At yoda’at
    “You know”
  • – החיים במדינה שלי לא קלים, ממש כמו בישראל, את יודעת.
    – Ha-khayim ba-medinah sheli lo kalim, mamash kemo be-Yisrael, at yoda’at.
    – “Life in my country is hard, just like in Israel, you know.”
  • – כן, ברור לי.
    – Ken, barur li.
    – “Yes, of course I know that.”
  • – נו, אז מה את אומרת? יוצאים לפאב עוד מעט?
    – Nu, az mah at omeret? Yotzim la-pab ‘od me’at?
    – “So, what do you say? Should we head to the bar in a bit?”
  • – אני ממש צריכה לשבת וללמוד לקראת המבחן הגדול, אתה יודע.
    – Ani mamash tzrikhah lashevet ve-lilmod likrat ha-mivkhan ha-gadol, atah yode’a.
    – “I really need to sit and study for the big exam coming up, you know.”

  1. אתה מבין/את מבינה
    Atah mevin / At mevinah
    “You know”
  • – מה קרה? למה את כל כך עצובה היום?
    – Mah karah? Lamah at kol kakh ‘atzuvah ha-yom?
    – “What’s up? Why are you so sad today?”
  • – חבר שלי התקבל ללימודים בחו”ל, את מבינה?
    – Khaver sheli hitkabel le-limudim be-khu”l, at mevinah?
    – “My boyfriend got accepted to study abroad, you know?”
  • – איך אתה מצליח לעבוד כל כך הרבה שעות ועוד לחייך?
    – Eykh atah matzli’akh la’avod kol kakh harbeh sha’ot ve-’od lekhayekh?
    – “How do you manage to work so many hours and still keep a smile on your face?”
  • – הכל בראש, אתה מבין? צריך לשמור על מורל גבוה!
    – Ha-kol ba-rosh, atah mevin? Tzarikh lishmor ‘al moral gavoha.
    – “It’s all in your head, you know? One has to keep morale high!”

  1. אתה יודע/ את יודעת?
    Hevanta? / Hevant?
    “Do you know what I mean?” (Lit.: “Did you understand?”)
  • – שירלי, למה את לא עונה לי לטלפון?
    – Shirli, lamah at lo ‘onah li la-telefon?
    – “Shirli, why aren’t you taking my calls?”
  • – סליחה, אני פשוט עסוקה מאוד בימים אלה, את יודעת?
    – Selikha, ani pashut ‘asukah me’od be-yamim eleh, at yoda’at?
    – “Sorry, I’m just very busy these days, you know?”
  • – איזה כיף שאתם יוצאים לחופשה סוף סוף!
    – Eyzeh keif she-atem yotzim le-khufshah sof sof!
    – “It’s great that you’re finally going on vacation!”
  • – טוב, אנו חוסכים כבר שנתיים. זה לא בדיוק זול, אתה יודע?
    – Tov, anu khoskhim kvar shnatayim. Zeh lo bediyuk zol, ata yode’a?
    – “Well, we’ve been saving up for two years. It’s not exactly cheap, you know?

5. Let HebrewPod101 Fill in the Blanks for You

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson on Hebrew filler words. Obviously, as you’ve seen, a well-placed filler in Hebrew can help you get a moment to think or remember a word. Plus, when used in moderation, they add an extra measure of authenticity to your speech. After all, sounding too perfect isn’t idiomatic either, and Israelis themselves use these fillers plenty.

That being said, we here at HebrewPod101 are always here to ensure that you have all the vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and even cultural knowledge that you need to hold your own in Hebrew. Check out our thousands of other lessons covering endless topics and language points. And if we’re missing anything you’d like more information on, please let us know. We’re always happy to fill in the blanks!

Until next time, shalom!

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How to Say “I Love You,” in Hebrew

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It’s a well-known fact that when studying a foreign language, there’s no better tutor or motivator than a romantic partner who happens to speak the language you’re interested in acquiring. Hebrew, of course, is no exception. Whether you’ve already fallen in love with a Hebrew speaker or are hoping to find romance in the Holy Land, today’s lesson is designed to equip you with all the language you’ll need to pursue your love interest and express your love in Hebrew. Once you find that partner, he or she should be motivation enough to keep up your Hebrew studies!

Today, we’ll be looking at phrases you can use to…

  • …start up a conversation with someone who sparks your interest.
  • …deepen your connection with him or her. 
  • …take things a step further, whether in terms of moving in together, getting married, or starting a family.

In addition, we’ll go over some general terms of endearment that you can use at any stage of a relationship. We’ll also see some beautiful quotes about love in Hebrew culled from the best of Israeli poetry and song.

One caveat before we plunge right in: Romance is a peculiarly sensitive thing, and one that changes from one culture and individual to another. If you’re unfamiliar with Israeli culture, expect for it to take you a while to understand how romance works in Hebrew, what is appropriate or welcome to say in a given situation, and how to properly pick up on cues from the object of your interest. While eagerness to use your new language skills will certainly be commended, you definitely want to proceed with caution when foraying in the world of romance. So choose your words wisely!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Budding Love: Conversation Starters and Pick-up Lines
  2. Deepening Love: Expressing More Profound Emotions
  3. Taking Things to the Next Level: Meeting the Folks, Moving in, and Starting a Family Together
  4. Terms of Endearment for Any Occasion
  5. Love Quotes to Impress, to Move, and to Inspire
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Fall in Love with Hebrew

1. Budding Love: Conversation Starters and Pick-up Lines

Man Whispering in Woman's Ear

While some romantic relationships develop organically from friendships or other already-established relationships, sometimes your heart just stops when you see someone from the other end of the bar. Whatever the case may be, this section is designed to give you the linguistic tools you need to (at least try to) endear yourself to someone who catches your interest, whether you’ve been introduced or not.

It bears mentioning that, particularly if you’re approaching someone you’ve never met, it’s always wise to measure your words and to be fully prepared for rejection (or worse) if you choose to go all out with a pick-up line. It’s probably a safe bet that most people—at least Israelis—will respond more warmly to an attempt at genuine conversation than a cheesy pick-up line. That being said, each of us has our own style, and the world is full of all types. Just keep in mind that Israelis tend to be a little harder-edged than, say, their American counterparts. So if you’re going to drop a bomb, you’d better brace for impact!

1. אני X. איך קוראים לך?
Ani X. Eykh korim lekha/lakh?
“I’m X. What’s your name?”

2. אפשר להזמין אותך ל…?
Efshar lehazmin otkha/otakh le…?
“Can I buy you a…?”

*Note that you can use this for any object, though typically it would be a drink, such as a beer (בירה, birah) or a cup of wine (כוס יין, kos yayin).

3. בא לך…?
Ba lekha/lakh…?
“Do you feel like…?”

*This one can be used either to invite someone to partake in drinking or eating something, or to engage in any other activity. Here are a couple of examples:

  • בא לך פיצה?
    Ba lekha/lakh pitzah?
    “Do you feel like pizza?”
  • בא לך לרקוד?
    Ba lekha/lakh lirkod?
    “Do you feel like dancing?”
  • בא לך לצאת החוצה?
    Ba lekha/lakh latzeit hakhutzah?
    “Do you feel like going outside?”

4. אתה בא/את באה לפה הרבה?
Atah ba/At ba’ah lepoh harbeh?
“Do you come here often?”

5. היי מותק.
Hay, motek.
“Hi, sweetheart/honey.”

*Be careful with this one, as being called מותק may not always be welcome. It’s similar to calling someone you don’t know sweetheart, honey, or sugar, which may go well or poorly depending on who says it to whom, as well as how smoothly it was delivered!

6. את/ה מאמינה/מאמין באהבה ממבט ראשון?
At/ah ma’amin/ah be-ahavah mi-mabat rishon?
“Do you believe in love at first sight?”

*A warning should be unnecessary here, as the cheesiness of this line requires that you both choose the right addressee and deliver it with suavity.

2. Deepening Love: Expressing More Profound Emotions

Man and Woman Touching Heads

Assuming you’ve gotten over the first hurdle of striking up a conversation with someone, and have now been seeing someone romantically for a while, you’ll probably be looking for ways to express all those butterflies in your stomach with eloquence and style. Below, you’ll find a few ways of talking about your deepening feelings and expressing your love in Hebrew. It bears noting that the Hebrew word for love—לאהוב (le’ehov)—is used to express both “love” and “like,” with the degree of intensity being inferred from the speaker, context, intonation, etc. With that in mind, be careful about jumping the gun and using this word too soon! You don’t want to spook the man or woman of your dreams before they’ve had a chance to get to know you.

7. אני אוהב/ת אותך.
Ani ohev/et otakh/otkha.
“I love you.”

8. אתה/את יקר/ה לי.
Atah/At yakar/yekarah li.
“You’re dear to me.”

9. אני מאוהב/ת בך.
Ani me’ohav/me’ohevet bakh/bekha.
“I’m in love with you.”

10. אני חולה עליך.
Ani kholeh/kholah alayikh/alekha.
“I’m crazy about you.”

11. אני לא יכול להפסיק לחשוב עליך.
Ani lo yakhol/yekholah lehafsik lakhsov alayikh/alekha.
“I can’t stop thinking about you.”

12. אני מתגעגע/ת אליך.
Ani mitga’age’a/mitga’aga’at elayikh/elekha.
“I miss you.”

3. Taking Things to the Next Level: Meeting the Folks, Moving in, and Starting a Family Together

Family's Feet at Foot of Bed

Hopefully, your relationship has continued to grow and strengthen, and you’re now ready to take things to the next level. Whether you just want to introduce your partner to your folks or you’re ready to get down on one knee and propose, these are the top love phrases in Hebrew you’ll need to take things a step further. As in any culture, you should make sure you—and your significant other—are ready for these milestones before you try any of these phrases out!

13. הייתי רוצה להכיר אותך למשפחה שלי.
Hayiti rotzeh/rotzah lehakir otakh/otkha la-mishpakhah sheli.
“I’d like to introduce you to my family.”

14. אני רוצה לעבור לגור יחד.
Ani rotzeh/rotzah la’avor lagur yakhad.
“I want to move in together.”

15. התחתן/התחתני איתי!
Hitkhaten/Hitkhatni iti!
“Marry me!”

16. התינשא/י לי?
Ha-tinase/tinas’ii li?
“Will you marry me?”

17. אני רוצה לעשות איתך ילדים.
Ani rotzeh la’asot itkha/itakh yeladim.
“I want to have children with you.”

18. בוא/י נקנה בית יחד.
Bo/Bo’i nikneh bayit yakhad.
“Let’s buy a house together.”

4. Terms of Endearment for Any Occasion

Heart on Envelope

Now that we’ve seen a lot of scenario-specific language, let’s have a look at terms of endearment that you can use at any time. After all, when is it a bad time to make the apple of your eye feel as special as he or she is to you? Obviously, you do want to keep in mind that not everyone likes being called by something other than their name, and there are some nicknames that simply won’t work for certain people. However, using terms of endearment is very common in Hebrew, and it may well earn you some extra brownie points—particularly if your partner is feeling down or if, say, you forgot to bring them flowers on their birthday. A final note: Pay attention to which of these terms change based on the gender of the person you’re talking to and which don’t!

19. מותק
Motek
“Sweetheart”

  • התספורת ההיא ממש הולמת אותך, מותק.
    Ha-tisporet ha-hi mamash holemet otakh, motek.
    “That haircut really suits you, sweetheart.”

20. יפה שלי
Yafeh/Yafah sheli
“(My) pretty/handsome”

  • מה בא לך לאכול הערב, יפה שלי?
    Mah ba lekha le’ekhol ha-erev, yafeh sheli?
    “What do you feel like eating tonight, handsome?”

21. נשמה שלי
Neshamah sheli
“My soul”

  • נשמה שלי, איך התגעגעתי אליך!
    Neshamah sheli, eykh hitga’aga’ti elayikh!
    My soul, how I missed you!”

22. עיניים שלי
Eynayim sheli
“My eyes”

  • איך אני מאוהב בך, עיניים שלי!
    Eykh ani me’ohav bakh, eynayim sheli!
    “I’m so in love with you, my eyes!”

23. אהובי
Ahuvi
“My love”

  • אהובי, אתה לא רוצה לצאת לשתות משהו?
    Ahuvi, atah lo rotzeh latzet lishtot mashehu?
    My love, you don’t want to go out for a drink?”

24. חיים שלי
Khayim sheli
“My life”

  • אל תהיי עצובה, חיים שלי. אני איתך.
    Al tihiyi atzuvah, khayim sheli. Ani itakh.
    “Don’t be sad, my life. I’m with you.”

5. Love Quotes to Impress, to Move, and to Inspire

Book pages in shape of heart

Last but not least, sometimes you just want to leave a good impression or change the mood by using a properly turned phrase coined by someone else. Fear not! We’ve got you covered. Now that we’ve looked at Hebrew phrases for the various stages of romance, let’s have a look at some carefully culled love quotes in the Hebrew language that will be sure to move even a heart of stone. Keep in mind that this is just a short selection, but Hebrew has absolutely no shortage of beautiful poetry and song lyrics that are ripe with amorous quotations for any occasion.

1. אביא לך אבנים מהירח, אתן לך אוצרות מלב הים, מה שתבקשי, מה שרק תרצי, אם את עודך שלי.
-בועז שרעבי
Avi lakh avanim me-ha-yare’akh, eten lakh otzarot mi-lev ha-yam, mah she-tevakshi, mah she-rak tirtzi, im at odekh sheli.
-Bo’az Shar’abi
“I’ll bring you rocks from the moon; I’ll give you treasures from the heart of the sea; whatever you ask, whatever you ask, as long as you’ll still be mine.”
-Boaz Sharabi

2. בין האפל לנסתר, בעולמנו המר, אומרים שיש עוד תקווה, קוראים לזה אהבה.
-ארקדי דוכין
Beyn ha-afel la-nistar, be-olameinu ha-mar, omrim she-yeish ‘od tikvah, korim le-zeh ahavah.
-Arkadi Dukhin
“Between the obscure and the hidden, in our bitter world, it’s said there’s still hope. It’s called love.”
-Arkadi Duchin

3. כל אהבה שתלויה בדבר – בטל דבר, בטלה אהבה. ושאינה תלויה בדבר – אינה בטלה לעולם.
-פרקי אבות
Kol ahavah she-t’luyah be-davar – batel davar, betelah ahavah. Ve-she-eynah t’luyah be-davar – eynah betelah le-’olam.
-Pirkei Avot
“Any love which is dependent on something, when the ‘something’ ceases, the love ceases. Any love which is not dependent on anything will never cease.”
-Pirkei Avot

4. יש האומרים שאהבה טובה ומתוקה, ויש אומרים קשה היא, ויש אומרים רכה. יש האומרים שהיא איננה, שמזמן אבדה, ויש האומרים שהיא הכל ואין עוד מלבדה.
-אהוד מנור
Yesh ha-omrim she-ha-ahavah tovah u-metukah, ve-yesh omrim kashah hi, ve-yesh omrim rakah. Yesh ha-omrim she-hi eynenah, she-mi-zman avdah, ve-yesh ha-omrim she-hi ha-kol ve-eyn ‘od milvadah.
-Ehud Manor
“There are those who say that love is good and sweet; there are those who say it’s tough and those who say it’s soft. There are those who say it doesn’t exist, that it was lost a long time ago, and those who say it’s all there is, and there’s nothing else.”
-Ehud Manor

5. שדות ביקשו אל הגשם, הגלים ביקשו אל החוף ואני ביקשתי את לבך לקטוף.
-אביב גפן
Sadot bikshu el ha-geshem, ha-galim bikshu el ha-khof, va-ani bikashti et libekh liktof.
-Aviv Geffen
“Fields asked for the rain, the waves asked for the shore, and I asked your heart to pluck.”
-Aviv Geffen

6. כמו כלים שלובים, אני ואת ביחד מתמלאים עד קו הלב.
-יוני רכטר
Kemo kelim shluvim, ani ve-at beyakhad mit’mal’iim ‘ad kav ha-lev.
-Yoni Rekhter
“Like communicating vessels, you and I together fill ourselves to the heartline.”
-Yoni Rechter

6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Fall in Love with Hebrew

HebrewPod101 Logo with Girl Wearing Headphones

We hope that you found today’s lesson helpful, though on this one in particular, we can’t guarantee the results. After all, the heart is fickle, and courtship and love are an art, not a science. Just keep in mind that expressing love in another language is not as simple as translating your “game” word for word. Rather, you need to immerse yourself in the culture—linguistic and otherwise—of Hebrew to really get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

We invite you to explore our vast resources covering all aspects of the Hebrew language and Israeli culture, including romance but also general conversation vocabulary and tips. You’ll find a wealth of written and audiovisual lessons to help you grow your Hebrew lexicon, practice your pronunciation, and hear how real Israelis converse. In closing, we wish you luck in romance, and hope you fall in love with Hebrew…and maybe even with a Hebrew speaker, too!

If you enjoyed our lesson, make sure to continue exploring all that HebrewPod101.com has to offer!

Are there any love phrases we didn’t mention in this article that you want the Hebrew translation for? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get back to you!

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Negation in Hebrew: How to Say No Like a Pro

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Expressing negation is a crucial skill in any language. Not only do we need to know the right word(s) to say in order to make logical negative sentences, but we also need to understand which forms are appropriate in which cases. Unlike some cultures, which seemingly struggle with saying no, Israelis are (as in all other spheres of communication) quite direct when expressing things like disinterest, the lack of something, or the inability to do something. While Hebrew negation may sound abrasive to the untrained ear, the fact is that there’s an art to it all, and a nuanced one at that. Today’s lesson will prime you to say no like a pro as we look at all facets of Hebrew negation.

The first thing to understand is that Israelis tend to be more frank than what Westerners may be accustomed to, with fewer niceties of conversation, less small talk, and less beating around the bush. When a situation arises in which someone wishes to express a negative, they’ll typically do so in the most direct and efficient way possible. The other person will generally not take any offense at such directness, as this is simply the nature of Hebrew.

That being said, you also don’t want to find yourself inadvertently exaggerating your directness. That’s why we’re going to look at different ways to express negation in Hebrew—including more formal ones—along with contextual examples to demonstrate their correct usage. Finally, we’ll look at some of the top words and phrases that you can use to say no in Hebrew.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Negative Statements
  2. Negative Imperatives
  3. Answering Questions with Negation
  4. Other Words and Phrases for Negation
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Learn Hebrew – HebrewPod101 Has Always Got Your Back!

1. Negative Statements

The most basic thing we need to know is how to formulate simple negative statements. The great thing is that, by and large, you’ll only need to know one word: לא (lo). This word, meaning “no,” is your go-to for all things negative, though it can also take the function of other negative English words and phrases, such as “don’t” or “won’t.” 

Let’s begin by having a look at how לא works in context by comparing positive and negative statements, with לא being the only distinction between them. Note that the word לא comes after the subject and before the word or phrase it negates.

A- Use of the word לא (lo) – “no” /Japan road sign 302.svg

No Sign with Guy Holding Up Hand
  1. אני סטודנטית.
    Ani studentit.
    “I’m a student.”
  1. אני לא סטודנטית.
    Ani lo studentit.
    “I’m not a student.”
  1. אני רעב.
    Ani ra’ev.
    “I’m hungry.”
  1. אני לא רעב.
    Ani lo ra’ev.
    “I’m not hungry.”
  1. אני רוצה לראות סרט.
    Ani rotzeh lir’ot seret.
    “I want to see a movie.”
  1. אני לא רוצה לראות סרט.
    Ani lo rotzeh lir’ot seret.
    “I don’t want to see a movie.”
  1. ההורים שלי גרים בישראל.
    Ha-horim sheli garim be-Yisrael.
    “My parents live in Israel.”
  1. ההורים שלי לא גרים בישראל.
    Ha-horim sheli lo garim be-Yisrael.
    “My parents don’t live in Israel.”

B- Use of the word אין (eyn) – “no” / “there is no” / “there are no”

Woman Holding Hands Palms Up

The word אין (eyn) can also be used for simple negation. It means the opposite of יש (yesh), meaning “there is” or “there are,” which can also take the place of the English verb “have,” for which there’s no Hebrew equivalent. אין (eyn) is chiefly used to describe the lack of something. Here are some examples:

  1. יש מבחן מחר.
    Yesh mivkhan makhar.
    “There’s a test tomorrow.”

    אין מבחן מחר.
    Eyn mivkhan makhar.
    There’s no test tomorrow.”

  1. יש לי אחים.
    Yesh li akhim.
    “I have siblings.”

    אין לי אחים.
    Eyn li akhim.
    “I don’t have siblings.”

  1. יש לי זמן לדבר מחר.
    Yesh li zman ledaber makhar.
    “I have time to speak tomorrow.”
  1. אין לי זמן לדבר מחר.
    Eyn li zman ledaber makhar.
    “I do not have time to speak tomorrow.”

אין can also be used as an alternative to לא in negating nouns/nominal phrases or verbs/verbal phrases. However, unlike לא, which is used without any morphological changes (i.e. changes to the form of the word itself), אין must be conjugated to fit the subject’s gender and number, as demonstrated in the examples below.

Additionally, אין is generally considered a bit more formal. For example, you may encounter this word on signs warning of things not to be done in a given place, or in instruction manuals advising users on improper use of a product. 

  1. אבא שלי דתי.
    Abba sheli dati.
    “My father is religious.”
  1. אבא שלי אינו דתי.
    Abba sheli eyno dati.
    “My father is not religious.”
  1. אמא שלי אוהבת אוכל חריף.
    Imma sheli ohevet okhel kharif.
    “My mother likes spicy food.”
  1. אמא שלי אינה אוהבת אוכל חריף.
    Imma sheli eynah ohevet okhel kharif.
    “My mother does not like spicy food.”
  1. אני רעב.
    Ani ra’ev.
    “I am hungry.”
  1. אינני רעב.
    Eyneni ra’ev.
    “I am not hungry.”
  1. אתה מורשה להשתמש בציוד משרדי לשימוש עצמי.
    Atah mursheh lehishtamesh be-tziyud misradi le-shimush atzmi.
    “You are authorized to use office supplies for personal use.”
  1. אינך מורשה להשתמש בציוד משרדי לשימוש עצמי.
    Eynkha mursheh lehishtamesh be-tziyud misradi le-shimush atzmi.
    “You are not authorized to use office supplies for personal use.”
  1. את מוסמכת להפעיל את כלי הרכב הזה.
    At musmekhet lehaf’il et kli ha-rekhev ha-zeh.
    “You are authorized to operate this vehicle.”
  1. אינך מוסמכת להפעיל את כלי הרכב הזה.
    Eynekh musmekhet lehaf’il et kli ha-rekhev ha-zeh.
    “You are not authorized to operate this vehicle.”
  1. הרופא נמצא כעת.
    Ha-rofe nimtza ka-’et.
    “The doctor is currently in.”
  1. הרופא אינו/איננו נמצא כעת.
    Ha-rofe eyno/eynenu nimtza ka-’et.
    “The doctor is not currently in.”
  1. אחותי מעוניינת בפוליטיקה.
    Akhoti me’unyenet ba-politikah.
    “My sister is interested in politics.”
  1. אחותי אינה/איננה מעוניינת בפוליטיקה.
    Akhoti eynah/eynenah me’unyenet ba-politikah.
    “My sister is not interested in politics.”
  1. אתם רצויים כאן.
    Atem retzuyim kan.
    “You are wanted here.”
  1. אינכם רצויים כאן.
    Eynkhem retzuyim kan.
    “You are not wanted here.”
  1. אתן נמצאות ברשימת המוזמנים.
    Aten nimtza’ot bi-r’shimat ha-muzmanim.
    “You are on the guest list.”
  1. אינכן נמצאות ברשימת המוזמנים.
    Eynkhen nimtza’ot bi-r’shimat ha-muzmanim.
    “You are not on the guest list.”
  1. קרובי המשפחה רשאים להיכנס לחדר בלי ציוד מגן אישי.
    Krovey ha-mishpakhah rasha’im lehikanes la-kheder bli tziyud magel ishi.
    “Relatives are allowed to enter the room without PPE.”
  1. קרובי המשפחה אינם רשאים להיכנס לחדר בלי ציוד מגן אישי.
    Krovey ha-mishpakhah eynam rasha’im lehikanes la-kheder bli tziyud magel ishi.
    “Relatives are not allowed to enter the room without PPE.”
  1. העובדות יודעות איך התחילה השריפה.
    Ha-ovdot yod’ot eykh hitkhilah ha-s’reyfah.
    “The employees know how the fire started.”
  1. העובדות אינן יודעות איך התחילה השריפה.
    Ha-ovdot eynan yod’ot eykh hitkhilah ha-s’reyfah.
    “The employees do not know how the fire started.”

2. Negative Imperatives

No Written on Hand

Sometimes we want to tell people what they should or must do, and sometimes we want to tell them what not to do. This is when negative imperatives come in handy. In Hebrew, negative imperatives are formed with just one word: אל (al) – “do not.” Just be aware that, as in English, speaking to someone in the imperative voice should be reserved for situations of urgency, as it’s a highly direct form of speech, particularly when you’re essentially ordering someone not to do something. 

Here are some examples of negative imperatives in Hebrew:

  1. אל תרוץ בתוך הבית.
    Al tarutz betokh ha-bayit.
    Don’t run inside the house.”
  1. אל תאכלו באוטובוס.
    Al tokhlu ba-otobus.
    Don’t eat on the bus.”
  1. אל תסעי לשם לבד.
    Al tis’i le-sham levad.
    Don’t go there alone.”
  1. אל תפחדו, זה לא נחש ארסי.
    Al tifkhadu, zeh lo nakhash arsi.
    Don’t worry, that’s not a poisonous snake.”
  1. אל תסתכל בקנקן אלא במה שיש בו.
    Al tistakel ba-kankan ela mah she-yesh bo.
    Don’t look at the jug, but at its contents.” (This is a saying equivalent to English’s, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”)

3. Answering Questions with Negation

Woman Making Iffy Face

Now let’s have a look at how we can answer questions with negative answers. As in most languages, there are a number of ways to do this in Hebrew, including with לא and אין. For the purposes of this lesson, we’ll look at the most common forms to answer questions with negation, though there are obviously others. We’ll illustrate these through a few short exchanges demonstrating negative answers to various questions.

  1. -יש לך 20 שקל במקרה?
    -Yesh lekha esrim shekel be-mikreh?
    -“Do you have 20 shekels by any chance?”

    אין עליי כלום.
    -Eyn alay klum.
    -“I don’t have a thing on me.”

*Note that Hebrew uses double negatives, so the above sentence literally translates to: “I don’t have nothing on me.”

  1. -את רוצה לנסוע לצפון בחגים?
    -At rotzah linso’a la-Tzafon ba-khagim?
    -“Do you want to travel to the North over the holidays?”

    לא, אני לא רוצה.
    Lo, ani lo rotzah.
    -“No, I don’t.”

  1. -אתה מעוניין להצטרף אלינו למסיבה?
    -Atah me’unyan lehitztaref eleynu la-mesibah?
    -“Are you interested in joining us at the party?”

    -אני מעדיף שלא.
    -Ani ma’adif she-lo.
    -“I’d prefer not to.”

  1. -את חושבת שתסיימי את הפרוייקט השבוע?
    -At khoshevet she-tisaymi et ha-proyect ha-shavu’a?
    -“Do you think you’ll finish the project this week?”

    לא נראה לי.
    Lo nir’ah li.
    -“I don’t think so.”

  1. -לדעתך ירד גשם היום?
    -Le-da’atekh yered geshem ha-yom?
    -“Do you think it will rain today?”

    לא חושבת.
    Lo khoshevet.
    -“I don’t think so.”


4. Other Words and Phrases for Negation

Man with Tape Over Mouth

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the more common words and phrases used in the context of negation. There are obviously many more ways of making a sentence or statement negative in Hebrew than what’s provided here, but this list covers the top 10 most commonly used negative expressions.

*Note the use of double negatives in many of the examples below. Though we saw this previously, it bears clarifying that Hebrew uses double negatives, with negative verbs or verbal phrases taking negative objects. This can be confusing for English speakers, as double negatives are not used in correct English, so make sure to pay attention!

  1. כמעט ולא
    Kim’at ve-lo
    “Hardly”

    אני כמעט ולא רואה טלוויזיה.
    Ani kim’at ve-lo ro’eh televiziyah.
    “I hardly watch TV.”

  1. בכלל לא
    Bikhlal lo
    “Not at all”

    הוא בכלל לא רואה משחקי כדורגל.
    Hu bikhlal lo ro’eh miskhakey kaduregel.
    “He doesn’t watch soccer games at all.”

  1. לעולם לא
    Le-’olam lo
    “Never”

    היא לעולם לא יצאה מישראל.
    Hi le-’olam lo yatzah me-Yisrael.
    “She has never been outside of Israel.”

  1. בחיים לא
    Ba-khayim lo
    “Never ever”

    -היית אוכל כריש?
    -Hayita okhel karish?
    -“Would you eat shark?”

    בחיים לא!
    Ba-khayim lo!
    -“Never ever!”

  1. גם לא
    Gam lo
    “Neither” / “Either” / “Nor” / “Or”

    מה שעשיתם זה לא הוגן וגם לא יפה.
    Mah she-’asitem zeh lo hogen ve-gam lo yafeh.
    “What you did was not fair, nor was it nice.”

  1. אין מצב
    Eyn matzav
    “No way”

    אין מצב שאתם עושים מסיבה בלי להזמין אותי.
    Eyn matzav she-atem ‘osim mesibah b’li lehazmin oti.
    “There’s no way you guys are having a party without inviting me.”

  1. אף אחד
    Af ekhad
    “No one”

    אף אחד לא שאל אותך!
    Af ekhad lo sha’al otkha!
    No one asked you!”

  1. אף פעם
    Af pa’am
    “Never” / “Not once”

    אף פעם לא מאוחר להתפייס.
    Af pa’am lo me’ukhar lehitpayes.
    “It’s never too late to make up.”

  1. כלום
    Klum
    “Nothing” / “Anything”

    מחר אנחנו לא עושים כלום.
    Makhar anakhnu lo ‘osim klum.
    “We’re not doing anything tomorrow.”

  1. שום דבר
    Shum davar
    “Nothing at all” / “Not a thing”

    שום דבר לא יכול לעצור בן אדם בעל רצון.
    Shum davar lo yakhol la’atzor ben adam ba’al ratzon.
    “There’s not a thing that can stop a motivated person.”


5. Don’t Be Afraid to Learn Hebrew – HebrewPod101 Has Always Got Your Back!

We hope you found today’s lesson useful. Even though our focus was on negation, we truly hope you had a positive learning experience. Our goal at HebrewPod101 is always to make sure you receive quality lessons that are informative, interesting, and clear. If there’s anything else you’d like to know about Hebrew negation, please get in touch with us, and one of our expert Hebrew teachers will be happy to respond!

Remember that with broad topics like negation, it’s best not to bite off more than you can chew and digest at any one time. For that reason, we recommend learning and practicing a few small language chunks at a time, rather than attempting to assimilate an entire lesson in one sitting. Practice these words and phrases a little bit at a time, and you’ll see that they’ll start to sink in before you know it!

Until next time, shalom!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Hebrew?

Thumbnail

How long does it take to learn Hebrew? This is an altogether common question for people interested in picking up this ancient, vibrant, and wholly unique language. 

No two students are alike, so the answer to this question will vary based on who you are and how you go about studying. For example, if you already know how to read the Hebrew alphabet, you’ll surely progress much faster than someone starting from scratch. Or if you’re able to do immersion learning in Israel, you’ll likely progress more quickly than someone learning in a place where they can’t engage with Hebrew day and night.

Of course, motivation is one of the most central factors in determining how fast you progress with a language. For instance, if you’re learning Hebrew in order to land a new business contract—or better yet, to impress a girl or guy you met at a party—you’ll likely find yourself progressing at a faster clip than someone who, say, has to learn Hebrew because their parents think it’s important for them to be able to read prayers or the Torah.

In any case, today we’ll be looking at:

  • Factors that can influence your learning speed
  • The essential skills you’ll need to reach the beginner, intermediate, and advanced Hebrew proficiency levels
  • Some helpful tips on how to learn Hebrew fast

We’ll also talk about how long you can expect it to take you to reach each of these levels, though the numbers can vary quite a bit from one language learner to the next. Without further ado, let’s have a look at how long it takes to learn Hebrew.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Factors That Can Influence Your Learning Speed
  2. Beginner Level
  3. Intermediate Level
  4. Advanced Level
  5. Top 10 Tips to Help You Learn Hebrew Faster
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Get You on the Fast Track to Hebrew Learning

Factors That Can Influence Your Learning Speed

Car Going Over Speed Bump

Before we look at each level and what it entails, let’s look at some more general factors that are likely to influence your learning speed.

Motivation

As mentioned previously, your motivation level is going to be reflected in the speed at which you progress with your Hebrew studies. Generally speaking, an intrinsically motivated student, meaning someone who is learning Hebrew out of his or her own personal choice, is going to find it much easier to advance. This is because there’s a lot of satisfaction to be found in achieving something you set your mind to. Plus, you’re typically going to be able to use Hebrew for a specific goal, which can be very gratifying, indeed.

Chances are, if you’re reading this lesson, you already have some reason for wanting to improve your Hebrew. But even if that isn’t the case, try to set your eyes on smaller goals that you can keep at the front of your mind as you study. This will help keep you motivated as you progress through your stated goals and feel that sense of accomplishment. For example, you may want to be able to sing along with a Hebrew song you like or to read Hebrew without nikkud. Keep your goals realistic for your current level, rather than overshooting it!

Your language(s) going in

Language Books

One thing that’s going to make a huge difference in terms of how fast you progress with Hebrew is the language(s) you speak going in. Because Hebrew is a member of the Semitic language family, you’ll be more comfortable with the way Hebrew works if you speak any Arabic or Farsi, for example. This is because these languages share common traits (such as being read and written right to left) and comparable grammar logic. 

English speakers are unlikely to find any foothold here, as they would with Germanic or Romance languages. Hebrew is altogether distinct from these language families and really bears no resemblance to English (other than all the loanwords it has from English, Latin, and other international languages). You may well recognize individual words, but don’t expect this to get you too far. At the end of the day, you just have to accept that the Hebrew language has its own separate character, rules, and approach to expressing the world.

Your linguistic abilities and experience in general

Another key factor is any prior experience you have with languages. For example, if you grew up bilingual or polyglot, you’ll likely have a leg up on someone who is monolingual—even if none of the languages you know are Semitic! This is partly due to something known as “tolerance for ambiguity,” a term that refers to a language learner’s willingness to accept and assimilate language features that differ from what s/he knows from her/his native tongue(s).

Moreover, if you’ve ever studied a language before, whether Hebrew or any other language foreign to you, your prior experience is likely to have some bearing on how you approach your Hebrew learning. For example, if you had good language teachers in school who inculcated healthy learning habits and gave you an overall positive language learning experience, you’re likely to have an easier time taking up a new language. On the other hand, if you had lousy teachers, you may be somewhat traumatized from these experiences and need to develop new habits and a new attitude toward language learning.

How and where you’re studying

Woman Studying from Books

As we said in the introduction, immersion studying is always going to be ideal, but it may not be a possibility for everyone who wants to learn Hebrew. If you can find a way to spend time in Israel, you’ll be able to benefit from constant exposure to the Hebrew language through interactions with other people, listening to the news, watching TV, etc., all in Hebrew. However, if you can’t physically go to Israel, try your best to boost your exposure to Hebrew by taking advantage of the wealth of media available online. For example, you can check out Hebrew-language Netflix series, Hebrew songs on YouTube, and even Hebrew-language forums.

Apart from location, it will be beneficial to have some sort of structure to your learning. This will help to ensure that you progress in a linear fashion, building your knowledge successively and acquiring all the skills you need in one level before running ahead to a more advanced one. It will also prevent you from feeling like you’re drowning in an overwhelming sea of information, without knowing how to progress.

It’s always a good idea to vary your learning, as well. We recommend using a mix of serious and fun learning materials (for example, grammar lessons vs. lessons on slang), as well as giving all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) equal attention. Of course, there are some situations where you may need to hone only one or two skills. For example, in an academic setting, you may only need to be able to read Hebrew (and not produce it). Or maybe you simply want to learn conversational Hebrew and have little interest in learning to read it. In such cases, you may want to focus only on the necessities.

Beginner Level

The beginner level is just what it sounds like. This level describes someone who is in the initial phases of acquiring the Hebrew language. 

The US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) groups world languages into four different categories, with Category I languages being the most similar to English and Category IV languages being the least similar. They have ranked Hebrew as a Category III language, meaning it has significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English. Languages in this category are estimated to require 44 weeks (or 1100 hours) in order to reach “General Professional Proficiency” in speaking and reading. This would be equivalent to Intermediate Level on HebrewPod101.com.

Extrapolating based on this projection, the average time it takes to reach the beginner level might be something like 22 weeks (or 550 hours), if we assume that the beginner level is halfway to the intermediate level. 

At the beginner level, the assumption is that you’re building up a lot of passive knowledge, but obviously with the goal of being able to apply it and produce language (i.e. speak or write) more and more as you progress.

Wondering how to learn Hebrew from scratch? Here’s a list of skills and abilities you’ll want to master as a beginner:

The alphabet – אלפבית (alefbeyt)

Hebrew Book

As Hebrew does not use the Latin alphabet, you’ll need to learn to read the 22 characters of the Hebrew alphabet. To make things more complicated, Hebrew is an abjad, meaning that vowels are not letters but diacritical marks placed above, below, or within the letters, which are all consonants or vowel-bearing placeholders. To make it just a bit more complicated, these diacritical marks, called ניקוד (nikkud), are almost universally omitted from written and printed Hebrew and therefore need to be deduced from context. However, many learning materials include them for the benefit of the student reader. One last complication is that Hebrew uses one script for print and another for handwriting, so you’ll probably want to learn both of these.

Basic verbs

Verbs are action words, so you won’t see much action without them! The good news about Hebrew verbs is that there are only three main tenses—simple past, simple present, and simple future—and there’s no verb “to be” in present tense. The bad news is that there are a whopping seven conjugation patterns to learn.

Male and female forms

One of the aspects of Hebrew that tends to be particularly tricky for speakers of non-gendered languages, such as English, is the fact that Hebrew uses male and female forms for nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb conjugations.

Talking about yourself

Two women talking

At the beginner level, you’ll learn how to introduce yourself and how to say basic things about yourself, such as where you’re from and what you do.

Saying hello and goodbye

You won’t get very far without these essential skills.

Countries, nationalities, and languages of the world

The beginner level is a great place to learn these, starting with your own country of origin, nationality, and language(s). Once you have those down, you can progress to other countries, nationalities, and languages so that you can also talk about other people in this regard.

Likes and dislikes

Woman Making Face of Displeasure

As a beginner, you should learn to express basic likes and dislikes, as well as things like your hobbies and pastimes.

Food and drink

In Israel, we love food! So, no basic Hebrew-language education would be complete without learning how to discuss food. This includes verbs, nouns, and adjectives for eating, drinking, ordering at a restaurant, etc.

Work and school

You’ll also want to know how to talk about work and school, including the vocabulary for different professions and careers.

Numbers and time

Numbers on Check

Finally, numbers and the related topic of telling time are also essential for the beginner level. Note that Hebrew also has male and female forms for numbers, so you’ll want to master this, as well.

Intermediate Level

As you progress, you’ll move on to the intermediate level, which is where many students feel comfortable staying. At this level, which, as mentioned, might take around 44 weeks (1100 hours), you’ll already be getting much more comfortable holding a basic conversation and generally defending yourself in Hebrew.

Here’s a list of skills and abilities you’ll want to acquire at the intermediate level of Hebrew:

Dealing with travel situations

Because this is an essential skill set that draws on various abilities, you should get to a certain level of comfort when handling travel situations. This includes things like taking a taxi and buying bus tickets, as well as asking for and even giving directions.

Writing simple texts

Icon of Envelope

At this level, you should be able to produce simple texts, such as short text messages and emails or brief descriptions.

Describing things with some detail

Man Talking

At this point, you should also be acquiring sufficient vocabulary. This includes not only nouns and verbs, but also adjectives and adverbs which will permit you to describe experiences, plans, and opinions with some level of detail and precision.

Reading and understanding more complex texts

Books

You should be able to read and comprehend more complex texts such as news items or technical articles in fields you’re familiar with, such as those related to your profession. Much of this, of course, will have to do with vocabulary acquisition.

Have lengthier, more complex conversations

Again, as you progress in your ability to understand speech spoken at native speeds, and as you build up your own ability to speak with fluency, you should be able to engage in more interesting and drawn-out conversations.

Advanced Level

First of all, it should be noted that there really isn’t a limit to the advanced level. While there is a distinction in terms of skills and abilities when compared to the intermediate and beginner levels, you can take the advanced level just about as far as you wish—even to the point of achieving what’s known as near fluency. 

So, how long does it take to learn Hebrew fluently? A conservative estimate might be something like 2 years, though a really motivated and talented student might get there as soon as, say, 18 months.

Here’s a list of skills and abilities that pertain to the advanced level of Hebrew-language study:

Understanding longer and more demanding texts or conversations

As you grow your vocabulary and improve your grasp of things like grammar and syntax, you should be able to fend for yourself even when reading complex texts such as full-length books, opinion pieces, and even poems and song lyrics. You should also be able to engage in lengthy and complex conversations, such as discussing your opinions on politics or talking about technical matters.

Expressing ideas comfortably and in a fluid manner

Woman with Lots of Thought Bubbles

By now, you should feel comfortable expressing most of your thoughts and ideas with fluency, which in the literal sense means that your speech flows, without much stuttering, hesitation, or searching for words.

Effectively using language in social, academic, and professional situations

Your broad vocabulary, improved grammar, and stronger rhetorical abilities should enable you to feel comfortable using language in functional settings, such as at work or school, or in making and getting to know friends…or even that special someone.

Writing well-structured, detailed texts on complex topics

Woman Working on a Written Project

Assuming you’re focusing on writing and not just speaking, you should now be able to write more complex texts, such as essays and full-length letters or emails. You should have a solid grasp of different registers (e.g. formal vs. informal) and when to employ them.

Top 10 Tips to Help You Learn Hebrew Faster

Regardless of your current level or your language learning goals, there are several things you can do to make the most of your study time. Here are our top ten tips for how to learn Hebrew faster!

1. Read both with and without vowels to practice word recognition.

This is obviously going to be more important at the beginner level (and perhaps the intermediate level, to some extent), as the expectation is that by the time you reach the intermediate level, you’ll have become comfortable reading without vowels. That’s why it’s important to start practicing this ability as early as possible.

2. Keep track of vocabulary.

Record new words as you go, using a notebook or even your phone. Also, quiz yourself regularly to make sure you’re retaining this vocabulary.

3. Make sure to talk to native speakers, and ask them to correct you.

Two men in conversation

This is obviously much easier to do if you’re physically in Israel, but even if you’re not, you should do whatever it takes to find some native speakers in your town or online. This way, you can practice speaking Hebrew with someone who can offer you helpful feedback on your use of the language.

4. Watch and listen to plenty of media in Hebrew.

One of the best and most enjoyable ways to improve your Hebrew is to take advantage of the wealth of media available, particularly online, in the Hebrew language. Watch Hebrew TV shows and movies, and listen to Hebrew music as much as you can, especially with subtitles in Hebrew (see below).

5. Study with a partner.

Dancers

This may not be for everyone, but many people find that a study partner can be a great way to get mutual encouragement. It can also help with any anxiety when it comes to speaking. Obviously, it’s always best to try to find someone who is more or less at the same level of proficiency as you are.

6. Be willing to make mistakes.

Numerous studies have shown that the most successful language learners are those who go easy on themselves. Making mistakes is part and parcel of learning languages, so don’t just allow for this—expect it. Learn to laugh at yourself when you make a silly mistake, rather than getting caught up on it.

7. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions.

Question Marks and Light Bulb

According to a Hebrew proverb, a bashful person makes for a poor student, and a strict person makes for a bad teacher. Part of any successful learning endeavor is a sense of comfort about asking questions whenever you’re in doubt. So when in doubt, ask someone for help!

8. Practice pronunciation in front of the mirror.

Woman in front of mirror

This will probably feel funny at first, but by actually watching what your mouth is doing when you speak, you have a better chance of honing in on the mechanics of producing the right sounds to approximate native-sounding Hebrew. In the same vein, pay attention to what you see Israelis’ mouths doing when they make any sounds you’re having difficulty with, and do your best to mimic them when you practice.

9. Do karaoke in Hebrew.

This one’s a no-brainer. Not only is it fun to let loose in front of the karaoke screen, but actually singing a song to beat is a great way of drumming language into your head—literally.

10. Use subtitles to help connect words to sound.

Popcorn and Remote

Subtitles are your friend. They’re a fantastic tool for working on anything, from expanding your vocabulary to recognizing words without vowels to picking up on grammar and syntax structures. 

As a beginner, you’ll likely need subtitles in your native language, but as you progress, you can use subtitles in a more challenging way. An intermediate student, for example, can pick up a lot of new words by watching TV or movies in his/her native tongue, with Hebrew subtitles to accompany it. As you advance, however, challenge yourself to watch Hebrew-language TV shows and movies with Hebrew subtitles. This can go a long way toward helping you connect the physical appearance of words with the sounds they make.

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As you can see, there are many components to tackle in mastering the Hebrew language. We at HebrewPod101 are proud to offer you a broad array of learning materials to ensure that you learn comfortably and at as fast a pace as you desire.

Whether you prefer audio lessons or written ones like this one, our library of materials is diverse and designed with the optimal student experience in mind. In addition to our learning materials, we also offer numerous lessons addressing tips and techniques to make your learning more efficient and more enjoyable. 

Is there anything else you’d like to know about the process of learning Hebrew? Feel free to get in touch and let us know.

Until next lesson, shalom!

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Hebrew Proverbs: Right from the Source

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The word “proverb” is generally used to refer to a traditional saying that boils down a commonsense observation about life into a pithy adage, often through the use of a metaphor or some other rhetorical device. All languages, it would seem, express the wisdom of the ages using concise sayings that are easy to remember and recall to use for strategic effect. Indeed, the name of the game is knowing the right proverb for the right moment.

In the case of Hebrew proverbs, there’s an extensive arsenal to draw on. In fact, one of the oldest examples of a proverb folklore is the Book of Proverbs, which represents one of the Hebrew language’s greatest contributions to world literature. This book, of course, is part of a longstanding tradition of Hebrew proverbs, from Biblical times through the Rabbinic period, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and right into modern times. As the People of the Book, Jews have long considered a well-turned phrase burnished at just the right moment to be a mark of erudition and eloquence.

Man Reading Bible

Of course, the vast majority of these old Hebrew proverbs are religious in nature and emanate from religious sources, namely the Hebrew Bible and the vast library of exegetical works (works that interpret the Bible). Because modern Israel is a largely secular country, some portion of these proverbs have certainly been relegated to the demographically more limited sphere of Israel’s religious communities. However, there’s still a large number of Hebrew proverbs used by the general public.

In any event, nothing will add stripes to your rank as a speaker of the language like a few pithy proverbs in Hebrew to employ at a choice moment in your conversation with a native speaker. To that end, our lesson today will cover the top thirty Hebrew proverbs along with context examples to help you know when best to use them.

Friends Having a Conversation
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  1. The Top 30 Hebrew Proverbs
  2. HebrewPod101 is Your Proverbial Go-To for All Things Hebrew

1. The Top 30 Hebrew Proverbs

אכול ושתו כי מחר נמות .1

TransliterationAkhol ve-shato ki makhar namut.
Literal translation“Eat and drink for tomorrow we shall die.”
SourceIsaiah 22:13
Parallel English proverbLife is short.
Usage in contextYour friend is trying to convince you to go skydiving with him, but you’re on the fence due to safety concerns. To try to win you over, he uses this phrase.

2. אם אין אני לי מי לי? וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי?

TransliterationIm eyn ani li mi li? U-kh’she-ani le-’atzmi, mah ani? Ve-im lo ‘akhshav, eymatay?
Literal translation“If I am not for myself, who will be? And when I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, then when?”
SourcePirkei Avot 1:14
Parallel English proverbThere’s no time like the present. [last part]
Usage in contextThis proverb is often quoted in part, depending on the application. For example:

It’s Friday, and you’re considering going to visit the Dead Sea for the first time, but you know you have a work assignment to hand in on Monday. To give you a bit of a push, your friend (who wants you to go with him) says, ואם לא עכשיו אימתי? (Ve-im lo ‘akhshav eymatay?)

Man Looking at Watch

3. מצא מין את מינו.

TransliterationMatza min et mino.
Literal translation“He found his own type.”
SourcePopular
Parallel English proverbLike two peas in a pod.
Usage in contextYour brother, who is a classical pianist, tells you about a date he went on with a classical violinist, to which you reply with this proverb.

4. ואהבת לרעך כמוך.

TransliterationVe-ahavta le-re’akha kamokha.
Literal translation“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Source Leviticus 19:18
Parallel English proverbSame as in Hebrew
Usage in contextA taxi driver wants to nudge in ahead of you at a merge onto the road. He rolls down his window, signaling for you to let him in, and quotes this proverb.

5. כל אהבה שהיא תלויה בדבר בטל דבר בטלה אהבה. ושאינה תלויה בדבר אינה בטלה לעולם.

TransliterationKol ahavah she-hi tluyah be-davar batel davar batlah ahavah. Ve-she-eynah tluyah be-davar eynah betelah le’olam.
Literal translation“Any love that depends upon a thing is annulled if that thing is annulled. Love that does not depend upon a thing will never be annulled.”
SourcePirkei Avot 5:19
Parallel English proverbTrue love lasts forever.
Usage in contextYou tell your Israeli girlfriend you need to go on a business trip abroad for a couple of months, and ask if she’ll wait for you to return. She replies with this proverb.

Hands Forming Heart Shape

6. כל הפוסל במומו פוסל.

TransliterationKol ha-posel be-mumo posel.
Literal translation“He who invalidates another invalidates himself.”
SourceTalmud Bavli: Kidushin 70:2
Parallel English proverbWhat you spot is what you’ve got.
Usage in contextYou criticize your neighbor for leaving trash outside his front door, and he points to your mailbox full of old mail, quoting this proverb.

Woman Looking in Rearview Mirror

7. עבר יומו בטל קרבנו.

Transliteration‘Avar yomo batel korbano.
Literal translation“Its day passed, its sacrifice was annulled.”
SourceTosefet Masekhet Berakhot 4
Parallel English proverbYou missed the boat.
Usage in contextYou forget your friend’s birthday, but offer to take him out to eat a month later. She replies with this proverb.

8. לכל זמן, ועת לכל חפץ תחת השמים.

TransliterationLa-kol zman, ve-’et le-khol khefetz takhat ha-shamayim.
Literal translation“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.”
SourceEcclesiastes 3:1
Parallel English proverbEverything in its own time.
Usage in contextYou ask your father when he’s going to retire already, and he replies with this proverb.

9. תפשת מרובה לא תפשת.

TransliterationTafasta merubeh lo tafasta.
Literal translation“If you grab too much, you grab nothing.”
SourceTalmud Bavli: Sukkah 5:1
Parallel English proverbDon’t bite off more than you can chew.
Usage in contextYou tell your parents you’re going to double major in biochemistry and plasma physics, and your mother replies with this proverb.

10. חזית איש מהיר במלאכתו, לפני מלכים יתיצב.

TransliterationKhazita ish mahir bi-m’lakhto lifney melakhim yityatzev.
Literal translation“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings.”
SourceProverbs 22:29
Parallel English proverbPractice makes perfect.
Usage in contextYou observe a master falafel hawker flipping the balls high into the air so they land right in the pita, and you say this proverb to your friend in admiration.

11. לעולם יאכל אדם פחות מן הראוי לו לפי ממונו וילבש כראוי לו ויכבד אשתו ובניו יותר מן הראוי לו.

TransliterationLe-’olam yokhal adam pakhot min ha-ra’uy lo lefi mamono ve-yilbash ka-ra’uy lo vi-yekhabed ishto u-vanav yoter min ha-ra’uy lo.
Literal translation“A man should always eat less than is befitting him, dress as is befitting him, and provide for his wife and children more than is befitting him.”
SourceHilkhot De’ah 5:10
Parallel English proverbNone.
Usage in contextThis might be good advice to a friend trying to budget their expenses, as it relates to monetary priorities vis-à-vis one’s earnings.

12. על ראש הגנב בוער הכובע.

Transliteration‘Al rosh ha-ganav bo’er ha-kova’.
Literal translation“The hat burns atop the thief’s head.”
SourcePopular
Parallel English proverbLiar, liar, pants on fire.
Usage in contextYou see that the prime minister is nervous and fidgety in an interview about the criminal embezzlement leveled against him, and you say this proverb in response.

Burglar

13. אין דבר העומד בפני הרצון.

TransliterationEyn davar ha-’omed bifney ha-ratzon.
Literal translation“Nothing can stand before will.”
SourceThe Book of Zohar
Parallel English proverbWhere there’s a will, there’s a way.
Usage in contextYour sister asks you how you’re able to learn so much Hebrew on HebrewPod101.com, and you reply with this proverb.

14. קנה חכמה מה טוב מחרוץ וקנות בינה נבחר מכסף.

TransliterationKno khokhmah mah tov me-kharutz u-knot binah nivkhar mi-kasef.
Literal translation“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver.”
SourceProverbs 16:16
Parallel English proverbThe greatest wealth is wisdom.
Usage in contextYour grandfather asks you why you’re studying philosophy at university instead of business management, and you reply with this proverb.

15. איזה הוא חכם? הלומד מכל אדם.

TransliterationEyzeh hu khakham? Ha-lomed mi-kol adam.
Literal translation“Who is the wise man? He who learns from all men.”
SourcePirkei Avot 4:1
Parallel English proverbYou can learn something from everyone.
Usage in contextYou complain to your friends about your new roommate, who is very different from you, and they reply with this proverb.

16. כי ברב חכמה רב כעס, ויוסיף דעת יוסיף מכאוב.

TransliterationKi be-rov khokhmah rov ka’as, ve-yosif da’at yosif makh’ov.
Literal translation“For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”
SourceEcclesiastes 1:18
Parallel English proverbIgnorance is bliss.
Usage in contextYour boyfriend starts reading the nutritional values label on your favorite ice cream, and you tell him to stop, citing this proverb.

17. צרת רבים חצי נחמה.

TransliterationTzarat rabim khatzi nekhamah.
Literal translation“Suffering when shared is half a comfort.”
SourcePopular (based on Midrash Rabah)
Parallel English proverbMisery loves company.
Usage in contextA group of your employees all gather around to complain about the new strict boss, and you offer this proverb as a slight consolation.

18. איזהו גיבור? הכובש את יצרו.

TransliterationEyzehu gibor? Ha-kovesh et yitzro.
Literal translation“Who is the hero? He who conquers his urges.”
SourcePirkei Avot 4:1
Parallel English proverbDiscipline is wisdom and vice-versa.
Usage in contextYou are about to go for seconds at your favorite pizzeria, and your brother mentions this proverb while reminding you of your newly adopted diet.

Saluting Silhouette

19. אילני סרק קולם הולך.

TransliterationIylaney srak kolam holekh.
Literal translation“Barren trees make much noise.”
SourceGenesis Rabba 16:3
Parallel English proverbAn empty barrel makes the most noise.
Usage in contextYou call out one of your colleagues (a notorious know-it-all who always has something nasty to say about everyone), using this proverb to put her in her place.

20. אין חכם כבעל ניסיון.

TransliterationEyn khakham ke-va’al nisayon.
Literal translation“There is none wiser than the experienced.”
SourcePopular
Parallel English proverbExperience makes the best teacher.
Usage in contextWhen you ask your teacher why she’s given you so much homework, she replies with this proverb.

21. לא הבישן למד ולא הקפדן מלמד.

TransliterationLo ha-bayshan lamed ve-lo ha-kapdan melamed.
Literal translation“Neither does the timid learn nor the strict teach.”
SourcePirkei Avot 2:5
Parallel English proverbNone
Usage in contextThis is something a student might say in criticism of a teacher who does not invite questions, or that a teacher might say of a student who’s too afraid to ask them.

22. דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים. 

TransliterationDivrey khakhamim be-nakhat nishma’im.
Literal translation“Wise words should be spoken pleasantly.”
SourceEcclesiastes 9:17
Parallel English proverbYou can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Usage in contextYou ask your friend how best to talk to your neighbors about their loud parties, and he cites this proverb.

23. סייג לחכמה שתיקה.

TransliterationSyag le-khokhmah shtikah.
Literal translation“Silence is a fence around wisdom.”
SourcePirkei Avot 3:13
Parallel English proverbBetter to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
Usage in contextJust before you raise your hand at your first work meeting, your colleague whispers this proverb in your ear.

Man Zipping Lips

24. והוי זנב לאריות, ואל תהי ראש לשועלים.

TransliterationVe-hevi zanav la-arayot, ve-al tehi rosh la-shu’alim.
Literal translation“It is better to be the tail of the lion than the head of the fox.”
SourcePirkei Avot 4:15
Parallel English proverbBetter the head of a dog than the tail of a lion. (It’s humorous to note that the parallels are opposite!)
Usage in contextYou’re offered a position with a lower salary than your current job, but at a leading firm with lots of opportunity. Your friend offers you this proverb as advice.

25. בור ששתית ממנו אל תזרוק בו אבן.

TransliterationBor she-shatita mimenu al tizrok bo even.
Literal translation“Don’t throw stones into a well you’ve drunk from.”
SourceNumbers Rabba 22
Parallel English proverbDon’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Usage in contextYour father tells you not to criticize your mother’s coddling, mentioning this proverb.

26. אמור מעט ועשה הרבה.

TransliterationEmor me’at va-’aseh harbeh.
Literal translation“Speak little and do much.”
SourcePirkei Avot 1:14
Parallel English proverbActions speak louder than words.
Usage in contextAfter hearing about your plans to finally learn Hebrew, your brother offers you this proverb by way of advice.

Woman Rock Climbing

27. אל יתהלל חגר כמפתח.

TransliterationAl yithalel khoger ki-mefate’akh.
Literal translation“Let not him that girdeth on his armor boast himself as he that putteth it off.”
Source1 Kings 20:11
Parallel English proverbDon’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Usage in contextYou announce to your boyfriend that you’re sure you’ll get the scholarship you applied for, and he replies cautiously with this proverb.

28. חושך שבטו שונא בנו.

TransliterationKhosekh shivto sone beno.
Literal translation“He that spareth his rod hateth his son.”
SourceProverbs 13:24
Parallel English proverbSpare the rod and spoil the child.
Usage in contextYour friend admonishes you with this proverb for letting your grounded son go out to play with his friends after feeling bad for him.

29. שלח לחמך על פני המים כי ברב הימים תמצאנו.

TransliterationShlakh lakhmekha ‘al pney ha-mayim ki be-rov ha-yamim timtza’enu.
Literal translation“Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.”
SourceEcclesiastes 11:1
Parallel English proverbWhat goes around comes around.
Usage in contextYour grandmother encourages you to give to charity, mentioning this proverb.

30. טובים השנים מן האחד.

TransliterationTovim ha-shnayim min ha-ekhad.
Literal translation“Two are better than one.”
SourceEcclesiastes 4:9
Parallel English proverbTwo heads are better than one.
Usage in contextWhen you finally meet ‘the one’ and bring him home to meet the family, your father happily quotes this proverb.

Cutout of Two People

2. HebrewPod101 is Your Proverbial Go-To for All Things Hebrew

We hope you enjoyed today’s lesson on Hebrew proverbs, and that you found our selection of proverbs useful, interesting, and enlightening. Obviously, it would be a lot to expect anyone to memorize all thirty of these; we recommend working on just a couple at a time. You’ll be sure to get some pleasantly surprised reactions when you whip out a perfectly timed Hebrew proverb with your Israeli friends!

Was there anything related to Hebrew proverbs that we didn’t cover today, or anything we did cover that you’d like to know more about? We at HebrewPod101 are always happy to hear from you, so please feel free to get in touch with us. Until next time, Shalom!

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